(Il)legal drugs

07.15.14

1st Pregnant Woman Arrested Under TN Law

A new Tennessee law criminalizes mothers whose babies are exposed to certain illegal drugs in utero. A week after the law went into effect, the first woman was arrested after her newborn tested positive for amphetamine – which is not an illegal drug.

In the ongoing trend of whittling away the rights of pregnant women, a new Tennessee law criminalizes mothers whose babies are exposed to certain illegal drugs in utero – specifically if the child is born addicted to or harmed by a narcotic drug. A week after the law went into effect, the first woman was arrested when her newborn tested positive for amphetamine – which is NOT an illegal drug. As RH Reality Check points out, initial reports also make no mention of withdrawal symptoms or that the child was harmed by the exposure. State politicians emphasize that the law is intended to protect children. “The focus of this legislation is to protect babies being born addicted to drugs,” said Shelby County Attorney General Amy Weirich in a statement. But Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney at National Advocates for Pregnant Women, argues that laws like these actually threaten public health, because they deter women who struggle with drug addiction from entering rehab for fear of being held criminally liable.