Tennessee Passes Bill to Criminalize Drug Use While Pregnant

Keely Sharp
Written by Keely Sharp

Tennessee has stepped up in defense of the unborn when it come to what pregnant women are putting into their bodies. They recently passed a bill to criminalize drug use during pregnancy!

It’s never easy for a baby nor the attending doctors when the child is born dependent on drugs. However, with the help of lawmakers and medical groups, this unfortunate trend can be curbed.

Under this bill, pregnant women will be prosecuted  for an “assaultive offense” if the baby is either harmed by or born addicted to narcotics. This can also allow her to be charged with homicide if the child died due to drug use.

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Times Free Press reports:

“Tennessee would become an extreme outlier, becoming the first state to criminalize pregnancy outcomes,” said Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney with the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a New York-based organization.

Over the last two weeks, that organization and other medical groups and women’s rights advocates across the country have urged Haslam to veto the bill.

The bill’s sponsors argue that strong punishment will deter drug use during pregnancy. The legislation sends a clear message about defending “the most vulnerable.”

“Nothing is more cruel than to have a baby being addicted to drugs when it’s born,” said Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, a co-sponsor of the bill. “This is meant to protect the unborn.”

But others have said such a law could have the opposite effect.

They believe mothers worried about criminal charges are more likely to avoid addiction treatment or prenatal care, and unlikely to seek treatment for infants suffering from the symptoms of drug dependency. Some may leave the state or seek abortions to avoid being charged, they argue.

Over the years, many other states have considered similar legislation, Diaz-Tello said, “but the legislators listened to medical experts who say that criminalizing pregnancy outcomes is dangerous for the babies and moms.”


If Tennessee Govenor, Bill Halsam, signs the bill presented to him then it will become the first one of its kind in America.

I think every state should have this law. Not only does this discourage the use of narcotics but it also helps spare the pain of the babies being born under those conditions. Drug addiction is plaguing our country, and any preventive measure we can take to stop it, should be taken!

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com

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Keely Sharp

Keely Sharp

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