The young mom, identified as Mallory Loyola, was arrested after she and her baby were found to be positive for meth. The news report came from Tennessee-based ABC News affiliate WATE-TV which added that 26-year-old Loyola is Tennessee's first person to be prosecuted for the drug-related offense.
In Tennessee, there is a new law which considers it illegal to take drugs while the mother is pregnant. It further states that once proven, the woman can be prosecuted of drug assault charges on using a narcotic type of drug during pregnancy.
Loyola admitted on smoking meth just a couple of days before she gave birth. She was tested and proven positive for meth. Up to this day, there are no solid evidences on the effects of meth on a developing fetus.
Sheriff Bill Bivens of Monroe County had expressed hopes that the arrest would serve as a deterrent to other pregnant women when thinking about using drugs. "Hopefully it will send a signal to other women who are pregnant and have a drug problem to seek help. That's what we want them to do," he said.
However, there are people who are opposing the law and say that it will only discourage troubled women to seek proper pregnancy care. "This law was sold as if it were just about illegal narcotics," says Executive Director Lynn Paltrow of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). "But sure enough, the first case has nothing to do with illegal narcotics."
The same sentiment is shared by other major medical organizations. These would include the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Public Health Association (APHA), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Likewise, several groups that support pregnancy rights and cry for criminal justice have launched an anti-legislation campaign. Dubbed as "Healthcare Not Handcuffs," the campaign stresses that charging women with drug assault will only discourage them to come forward and seek medical help.
The move to oppose the law does not actually mean that medical professionals support pregnant women to use drugs. However, prosecuting them with criminal charges is a totally different story and one that seemed overemphasized.
This notion on women expecting to give birth shows that "as soon as you're carrying a fertilized egg, you've lost your medical privacy and your right to make medical decisions," reiterates Paltrow. "Pregnancy, like other health issues, should be addressed through the public health system and not through the criminal punishment system or the civil child welfare system."