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Tennessee Looks To Punish Mothers Who Use Drugs While Pregnant If Newborn Is Addicted

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Mothers whose drug use addicts or harms the child they are carrying could be prosecuted under a new law proposed in Tennessee.

A similar bill passed in 2014, but carried a sunset clause, which meant it expired in 2016.

State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, a Republican from Lancaster who supported the law its first time around, wants the law back on the books.

“The reason why I’m bringing it back, we have an uptick in babies born addicted, our grandchildren are now being born addicted, it’s all about the babies and something needs to be done to protect these babies,” she said according to WFTX.

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“This bill’s intent is to protect babies, period,” she said, according to WDEF.

The legislation is HB1168/SB0659 and carries Sen. Janice Bowling, a Republican from Tullahoma, as its Senate sponsor.

The bill states a mother can be charged with assault if she uses an illegal narcotic drug while pregnant and if the child is born addicted to or is harmed by the drug and because of the woman’s use of the drug.

Is this law the right approach?

“This bill also has the direction to allow mothers to go to drug recovery courts and they are very successful,” Weaver said.

Mothers who enroll in a drug addiction recovery program while pregnant and remain in the program will not be charged, even if the child is born addicted, WJAC reported.

Not everyone agrees with the proposal.

Stacey Matthews, who said that she was addicted when she gave birth 15 years ago, said the bill would not change much, WREG reported.

“I struggled with just about anything I could get my hands on,” she said. “It had a hold of me.”

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“You know when you’re in addiction, you’re already feeling outcast, and so for someone to judge you and try to punish you for it when they get out, it’s just going to make them do it worse,” Matthews said.

During the 2016 debate on the bill, which ended with the law not being renewed, Weaver said the law was a “velvet hammer” to push mothers into doing the right thing and give “a voice to these tiny, innocent babies,” the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported.

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
Location
New York City
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Foreign Policy, Military & Defense Issues




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