Tennessee Governor Signs Bill Criminalizing Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) today signed into law a bill that will allow the state to file criminal charges against pregnant women who use drugs on the grounds that they are potentially harming their fetuses, even though there is little scientific evidence that being exposed to illicit drugs in the womb causes long-term harm to children.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) (tn.gov)
In his signing statement, Haslam said he signed the bill after "extensive conversations with experts including substance abuse, mental health, health and law enforcement officials" and will "be monitoring the impact of the law through regular updates with the court system and health professionals."

The bill foresees prison sentences of up to 15 years for women who used drugs and whose babies were stillborn or born addicted or otherwise harmed.

Haslam's move comes just one day after acting head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) slammed the notion in a visit to the state.

"Under the Obama administration, we've really tried to reframe drug policy not as a crime but as a public health-related issue, and that our response on the national level is that we not criminalize addiction," said acting drug czar Michael Botticelli. "We want to make sure our response and our national strategy is based on the fact that addiction is a disease."

Haslam's approval of the measure, Senate Bill 1391, also comes in the face of a massive outcry from reproductive rights and criminal justice groups across the country, who say that criminalizing pregnant women is the wrong policy approach. Those advocates argue that criminalizing pregnant women who are using drugs works against getting them to come forward to seek medical treatment and that the law will disproportionately impact poor, non-white women.

"Today, the Tennessee governor has made it a crime to carry a pregnancy to term if you struggle with addiction or substance abuse," said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "This deeply misguided law will force those women who need health care the most into the shadows. Pregnant women with addictions need better access to health care, not jail time."

It isn't just activists who are upset. According to National Advocates for Pregnant Women, most medical expert groups oppose such laws. And specialists in obstetric medicine and drug addiction called on Haslam to veto the measure.

"Tennessee has become the first state to ignore the warnings of medical and public health experts to pass a law criminalizing pregnancy outcomes," the pregnancy advocacy group said this afternoon.

Nashville, TN
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Tennessee Drug-Pregnancy Bill Violates International Law

The new law signed into being by Tennessee’s Governor Bill Haslam will most likely result in women aborting a fetus rather than carrying it to term.  American drug enforcement normally focuses on minorities, the poor and defenseless, etc., so the majority of prosecutions for drug use during pregnancy are likely to target minority women.

The consequences favor a result that encompasses a lower birth rate for a targeted minority group.  The outcome of such a policy presents a clear violation of international law under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Part 2, Article 6, Genocide:

Article 6

Genocide

 

            For the purpose of this Statute, "genocide" means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

 

    (a)     Killing members of the group;

 

    (b)     Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

 

    (c)     Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

 

    (d)     Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

 

    (e)     Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Now I've Seen It All

A pro-choice Republican!  What's next, an atheist Republican?

Given a choice between an abortion and up to 15 years in prison, I'm guessing most poor, drug-addicted women will choose the former.

Blatant Ignorance on Display

This is what happens when politicians turn to the drug rehab and law enforcement crowd for advice on dealing with drug issues . When someone breaks into your house , do you call your doctor or the cops ? When someone steals your lawnmower , do you call the local health clinic for help ? Another example of Republicans war on the poor , people of color and women in general . Next time you have a health related illness , don`t go to the doctor , go to the local police department instead . After all , they know what`s best for you .

HERE WE ARE AGAIN!! A MAN

HERE WE ARE AGAIN!! A MAN DICTATING TO WOMEN AND HE PROVES BEING IGNORANT  AND A COMPLETE MORON GOES HAND IN HAND.

HE IS A DISCRACE AND SHAMEFUL!

The battle was lost, but the war rages on

We are continuing to explore every possible avenue to defeat this bad legislation. NAMA Recovery of Tennessee, the TN statewide and Northwestern GA chapter of the National Alliance of Methadone Advocates, Inc., is remaining vigilant and needs all of your support.

 

Because treatment works,

Zac Talbott, Director

NAMA Recovery of Tennessee

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