Taking part in the use of narcotic drugs while pregnant can potentially harm the unborn child. Strangely enough, no one has been prosecuted in the U.S. for doing it, but that could soon change. The state of Tennessee is taking measures to become the first state in the U.S. to prosecute any woman who takes illegal drugs while pregnant.
Republican Governor Bill Haslam will be the man who gets the chance to sign the proposal, SB 1391, into law, and he'll have a maximum of 10 days to do so. With how dangers that surround taking drugs while pregnant, we see no reason for Haslam to refuse making Tennessee the first state to prosecute pregnant women who are addicted to illegal narcotics.
If the bill is passed, a prosecuted mother could spend up to 15 years behind bars.
This isn't the first time the idea has popped up about prosecuting pregnant women addicted to illegal drugs. Others states have thought of going this route, but chose not to do so due to the consensus that babies would be at risk if the mother were sent to prison while pregnant.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists back in 2011, "drug enforcement policies that deter women from seeking prenatal care are contrary to the welfare of the mother and fetus. Incarceration and the threat of incarceration have proved to be ineffective in reducing the incidence of alcohol or drug abuse."
Furthermore, Women's rights groups are doing all they can to convince Governor Haslam to throw out the bill, claiming that such a law would endanger both mothers and babies, and even cause an economic crisis in Tennessee.
However, governor Haslam is getting support from Terri Weaver, Tennessee state representative, who sponsored the bill in hopes to see it passed into law.
"This law brings treatment to the worst of the worst," say state representative Terri Weaver. "It's heartbreaking if you're a police officer, and you see a woman is seven or eight months pregnant and shooting heroin. There is an individual inside that belly that has no choice but to take whatever goes into it."
There is one big problem with this newly proposed bill, and that is the Safe Harbor Act that was passed back in 2013. This legislation allows mothers to come forward for drug treatment without worrying on whether or not they would lose parental rights to their child. However, supporters of the proposed SB 1391 bill claimed that the Safe Harbor Act did not go far enough to reduce the amount of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which is caused by the mother's drug addiction.
With the constant back and forth bickering where this proposed bill is concerned, we can't tell if governor Haslam will ever pass it into law. However, in the coming days we'll definitely know which side will come out as the victor.