Science has proven that addiction is in fact a disease, just as is cancer, diabetes, etc. To obtain sobriety requires receiving professional treatment and long-term recovery assistance. However, when it comes to a woman who is pregnant with a child, addiction is immediately looked at differently. “How could a mother put her baby in danger like that?” “Why doesn’t she feel bad about using?” “How selfish can she get?”
All of these are understandable thoughts, especially considering the massive amounts of women who are either attempting to become pregnant or are currently pregnant and doing whatever they can possibly do to protect their unborn child. Mothers always do anything and everything to protect their children, right?
According to new research conducted by the Tennessee Department of Health, more babies are being born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome than ever before (in fact, there has been a “ten-fold” increase in cases as of late). Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is defined by the National Institute of Health as “a group of problems that occur in a newborn who was exposed to addictive, illegal or prescription drug while in the mother’s womb.”
Seeing the major increase in these cases, the state of Tennessee has worked hard and fast to create laws that protect the unborn. As of today, a bill is currently waiting for a signature from the Governor of Tennessee that will allow authorities to charge women with assault for prenatal drug abuse.
This is not the first time the state of Tennessee has worked to put in place measures that would protect the children of addicted mothers, as nearly two years ago their efforts were attempted, but ignored.
Now, Tennessee is just one signature away from making it illegal for women to abuse drugs while pregnant, and the final verdict of the bill will surely spark a tremendous deal of controversy.
On one hand, some people are concerned that putting into place a bill such as this will drive pregnant, addicted women away from the prenatal care they require for fear of getting caught. It is also a concern that these women will run from the idea of treatment, because they do not want to be arrested for their use.
On the other hand, however, this new bill would help protect women in this sense, stating that if they were to seek treatment for their substance abuse problem, they would be let off the hook in terms of assault charges.
If Tennessee passes this bill, it will be the only state in the country that would allow charges to be placed against addicted women who continue to use during their pregnancy.