Tennessee Criminalizes Pregnancy. Monkies in Schools Next.

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July 12, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

TN pregnant woman

Who says being a new Mom isn’t blissful?

When I lived in the Volunteer State I spoke out against the seemingly never-ending stream of new and ill-conceived laws flowing from the state capitol in Nashville. Guns and alcohol seemed like a toxic and lethal mix to me. When they literally chained a woman as she gave birth because she was an illegal immigrant, well, that seemed extreme and inhumane to me. When I ran for US Congress in 2010, the incumbent, a woman who preferred being called a “Congressman” adamantly defended the so-called “pregnant woman in-chains law,” calling for even harsher measures against the biological mother. So much for sisterly love.

I have to admit though, this new law all signed, sealed and delivered from Nashville  has me scratching my head. Essentially, any woman who gives birth who, at the time of the birth has drugs (narcotics) in her system is now classified as a criminal and can be arrested and hauled off to jail for assault.

TN willie nelson

Thank goodness I never yet got pregnant…especially in Tennessee!

Recently, new mother Mallory Loyola was arrested 48 hours after giving birth and taken to a lock-up facility as she had been tested pre-natal for having traces of amphetamines in her system. Now, while amphetamines are not technically a narcotic, the DA believes it falls under the umbrella of the law.

Since the new Mom faces prosecution, by law, the Department of Children Services gets involved and this could result in her losing custody of her new-born.

Supporters of this new law said steps like this and others planned are necessary to curb the illegal drug use that goes on in pregnant woman and will send a clear message-Just Say No to pre-natal drug use.

Governor (R) Bill Haslam applauded the new law and shared that the women in his household were proud of his efforts to combat drug use in pregnant women.

TN governor and wife

The Governor and First Lady of Tennessee, happy their kids are all mostly grown now.

Opponents like SisterReach (a reproductive justice non-profit) and its CEO and Founder, Cherisse A. Scott were much less supportive than apparently, the women in Mr. Haslam’s life for this new law. Ms. Scott called the bill dangerous and predicted it would have a disproportionate negative effect on women of color and women of low or no economic means, many of which live in rural Tennessee.

One of the few Republicans not voting in favor of this new law, State Senator Mike Bell, seems to agree with SisterReach and the many national health organizations, medical professionals, reproductive therapists and family care experts who all say this is a terrible and short-sighted law. Senator Bell cites the very few  affordable reproductive clinics close to rural areas throughout Tennessee who even treat pregnant mothers who are battling addictions as but one reason this law is not the answer.

Some folks I talked to in the wake of this law say that even more extreme measures like making pregnancies illegal if the mother is an addict or frequent drug-user were discussed and are not necessarily off the table. Women shouldn’t have the right to even give birth if they are junkies, said one legislative staffer who preferred to remain anonymous.

TN prego with smokes

Pre-natal care, TN style?

The motivation for this action, say advocates, is to protect the unborn and the new-born.

Ah, yes, for the children. The path to hell is paved with the many actions we adults take in the name of “the children.”

On the other hand, how else can pregnancies that result in the newborn having either an inherent addiction or drug-related problems or syndromes be stopped?

At least 15 other states like South Carolina and Alabama are considering similar measures to Tennessee and even upping the ante or punishment for the crime of using drugs or being addicted at the time of birth. Alcoholic mothers may be next adds one advocate.

We don’t need a whole bunch of crack babies in our state says one supporter in SC, breaking the system already stretched by welfare abuse.

sheriff jw pepper

Sorry Momma, shouldn’t drank that Moonshine before you had me!

But is this new Tennessee law really the answer?

Between chaining women who are “illegal” on the birthing hospital bed, discussing whether there is such a thing as a “legitimate rape,” allowing far too many assaults and rapes to go unpunished on our campuses to aggrandizing and encouraging sexual violence in our popular culture and entertainment, it does make me wonder, Why do so many of us seem to truly hate or at least want to demonize women?

TN sexual violence

Don’t all our women deserve this?

Is it some sort of “Mommy didn’t love me enough” issue? Or is it that lousy homecoming queen, super-model, who does she think she is rejecting my advances?

Still, no new-born baby should have to start life behind the crack 8-ball.

Is this new wave of criminal penalties the answer?

In an unrelated matter, I see where there is once again legislative proposals in Nashville to make the teaching of evolution illegal in public schools. Sort of a Planet of the Apes Redux.

TN monkies

Monkey-see, Monkey-do. Nothing to see here boys.

Sigh. Didn’t I just see an old black and white movie on that issue? Wasn’t that a settled matter?

The old is new and the new old. Once again.

And Mommy best be real careful during pregnancy or she’ll be staying at “Hotel Tennessee” at no extra charge. Now that’s truly southern hospitality.

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58 thoughts on “Tennessee Criminalizes Pregnancy. Monkies in Schools Next.

  1. Amy K says:

    Tennessee is a red state that should be red-faced out of shame. What a terrible way to deal with a real problem. Where are progressive women in that state, hidden in a cupboard?

  2. Bailey H says:

    Amy, why should state tax payers have to foot the bill for the medical costs for drug addict mothers who then have babies we need to care for? I say it should be illegal to have kids unless the mother passes the drug test first. If the judge says yes, you are clean, then she can legally get pregnant.

  3. Brittany L says:

    I live in Tennessee and well, I remember when you ran (I voted for you!) and prayed you could beat that complete lamebrain Marsha Blackburn who truth be told is terrible for women. And yes, this new law is just the latest in a long line of awful laws passed by people who I do believe hate women and this one is inhumane. Come back, run again…maybe you can bring some sense into my state!!

  4. Suzanna G says:

    So, Bailey you’d be fine if your wife tested positive for some narcotic and then sent to jail after giving birth? You are ok with a judge making that decision? Really? Therapy and drug rehabilitation is needed not yet another drug related issue criminalized and more laws to send more people to jail. I think I’ll just skip Tennessee altogether when it’s time for me to have kids!

    • Scarlett T says:

      Would a husband be fine if a child popped out from a drug addicted mother who caused a life threatening issues to her child because she couldn’t put down the crack pipe? I find this no different then just killing the child all together because essentially that is what you are doing; hurting the child.

      • Suzanna G says:

        I find your language to be rather offensive from a woman’s perspective (popped out, really?) and drug addiction, and drug abuse is a far more complicated matter than just as you put it “it’s that simple” (don’t have kids if you have any drugs in your system…How about we make a law that says any guy who uses drugs or is abusive can never conceive a child because any kid born to such a loser of a father will also be “hurt.” Why are men so in a rush to suppress women and attack our reproductive rights? Therapy not criminalization is the answer here?

      • Scarlett T says:

        I’m sorry you feel that way but I feel that my language was appropriate. I don’t understand why you feel this is “suppressing women”. It’s thoughts like these that make me shake my head. It’s challenging our reproductive rights…. No it’s challenging drug addicts who get knocked up. No one is saying you can’t have kids it’s saying don’t do drugs while being pregnant which you would think is common sense. In fact the first woman was charged in Tennessee today for giving birth to a child that tested positive for meth. For your “therapy” the law allows these women to use drug rehab as a defense so long as they complete it. I feel this is a win win. I may be cold hearted but I have no sympathy for these women. They choose a life of drugs but their kids did not. Sorry but men can’t be a victim of this argument because kids don’t “pop” out from them so that point is mute.

      • Scarlett T says:

        I apologize she was actually arrested on the 8th not today.

  5. Rachel B. says:

    I understand the concern for babies born to moms who have addictions. It can affect the child long term and cause serious problems. I think it is more important to get the mother help than to throw her in jail. The key is having places that offer prenatal care and help women with addictions. Help them get clean so when their child is born they can be there for them. Another concern with this law is that babies bond with a parent in the beginning. Taking away a mother for who knows how long can hurt the child more. In understand that this law can act as a deterrent to keep women clean, but then again if they are doing illegal drugs then they probably aren’t too concerned with the law. As far as considering taking the law further to make it illegal for addicts to have kids, well I think that is absolutely ridiculous. We live in a free nation. Yes there are laws that govern the people, but when you start talking about controlling people by saying they can’t get pregnant I feel it is crossing a line. I am all for protecting children. I have been involved in childcare/teaching for many years and I adore kids. I would never want a child to enter this world with disadvantages because of their mothers. Even still I think the answer is helping moms get clean and healthy to be the best parent they can be not providing them no help to turn their lives around then punishing them and their child for the mistakes they made.

  6. Anya C says:

    Can we make a law for people who are extremely ignorant not to have kids? Sarcasm, but when is it right to dictate who can and cannot have children? I believe there are other ways to curve the terrible addiction of drugs. Will the father who is tested to have drugs in their system be arrested too? There are more questions than answers with this issue. There has to be some type of balance with this type of issue. I’m actually surprised to see this and at the same time it doesn’t suprise me.

    • Suzanna G says:

      Well said Anya tho I fear if there was such a law about 70% of the men who think they are real macho would be unable by law to ever have kids (hey, maybe you are on to something) when it comes to our reproductive rights I am not even sure men should have a say!

    • Anthony T says:

      I’m also surprised to read this and at the same time I’m not, just as you are. I do see where you are coming from when you say there are more questions to be answered, such as will the father also be tested. I don’t know how you can tell someone they can’t have a baby but in the same light I don’t want to see a baby come out addicted to drugs. There has to be more to this.

  7. Chandria says:

    As another respondent stated, this is not an effective way to deal with this issue. I think you have to target the drug problems to prevent women from being drug addicts in the first place. Once a person is addicted to drugs, their actions are obviously not well planned at that point. In fact, their actions can be potentially harmful to themselves and others. Their actions can range from getting pregnant as a drug addict to committing murder. I think the focus should be on prevention rather than punishment in this case.

    After all, once a drug addicted woman has gotten pregnant, the damage is done at that point. The strategy at that point should be to assist the woman with getting off the drugs so that she can be the best mother she can be to her child.

    • Julie M says:

      Chandria, I believe that if the issue is indeed the health of the child, as well as the safety of the mother, then the resources that went towards this law, and will go towards enforcement and education regarding the law, could better be used in rural and free clinics to provide prenatal visits. Georgia had a visiting nurses program in which nurses would visit pregnant moms to be in their homes to provide education and care- and follow up after birth to ensure adequate nutrition. I believe this type of prenatal and follow up mom and baby centered health care could be much more effective.

  8. Andrew N says:

    While I believe that something should be done for women who ingest illegal drugs when they are pregnant, I don’t think locking them up is the best answer. Locking up a mother who just had a baby while addicted to drugs is not going to solve the solution as the mess has already been done. Drug dependency needs to be addressed with therapy or counseling as it is, by definition, a disease. If a baby is born addicted to crack cocaine or any illegal drug for that matter, mandatory treatment needs to be ordered otherwise the child should be removed from the mother. By having a mandatory treatment program, it will either set some addicts straight and make them responsible for their actions, or they would not be allowed custody of their child. Drug dependent mothers cannot adequately care for a child because drugs cause severe psychological issues. Locking a mother up for a disease won’t do anything to solve the problem for the mother and certainly nothing for the newborn that depends on his or her mother. This law should be changed to get rid of the jail time and focus on treatment alternatives.

  9. Clay T says:

    Maybe this new law will scare drug using moms to be straight! That is why states like AL, SC, NC, MS and TX agree that something needs to be done. And to those who say that it will hurt women of color and low income women most well then they shouldn’t do drugs more than other sectors of our population.

  10. Amber H says:

    Clay, Clay, Clay, not even sure where to begin! So I’ll just say this-women of color and low income women don’t necessarily do more drugs than others they are just easy, vulnerable prey for reprehensible laws like this one in TN. Just like the cops don’t go after all those lily white suburb kids with meth labs in their Mcmansions cuz it’s easier and politically better to go after the dudes of color on the streets. And to be honest, the rest of the nation doesn’t look to see what TN, AL, MS, and TX do and then say yes, we NEED to do just what they did, mostly the opposite.

  11. Erica T-F says:

    Realistically how can you make a women not have kids if she’s a drug addict..will the state force her to tie her tubes? What happens if she’s rehabilitated…will the state then pay for the reversal of that also? How will the state identify the potential pregnant bound addicted women versus the low key addicts…is the state relying on the family turning them in? I personally think the idea is crazy; although it does sadden me that the number of women who are drug addicts while pregnant and then the baby and someone else has to do deal with the consequences of the mom’s actions.

  12. taylor d says:

    While agree that the problem needs to be addressed the means currently being taken have gone too far out of control. I honestly do not know if there is a way to fix the problem but putting cuffs on a woman in labor is not the answer.

  13. Scarlett T says:

    I may be one the opposite side of popular opinion here but I do not see a problem with hauling off a drug addicted mother and putting her in jail. One, her time in jail will cause detox which she clearly desperately needs. Two, she knowingly put her unborn child’s life in danger. As she was sitting there on a crack pipe she was killing her child. I find this no different then purposely harming another human being. Three, say we don’t haul off this mother to jail. She takes her child home (still on drugs), how will she be able to provide for this child? Feed the child? Clothe the child? Something tells me she won’t exactly be in the right frame of mind to do so. While I agree that the kinder option are drug and rehabilitation programs for new mothers battling drug addiction my question is who is going to pay for that? I sure as heck am not. If you can’t give up the drugs, don’t have kids. Simple as that.

    • Amber W says:

      Bless your little heart Scarlett, you are on the unpopular side of this issue and with good reason. You say logic I see intolerance. Hauling off women to jail who are battling drug abuse, yep, good answer.

      • Scarlett T says:

        Well bless my sweet heart but I just don’t have sympathy for people who give birth to crack babies. In all of these arguments I have not seen one person produce any logic for what happens to these children who are in fact the real victims of this situation. Everyone is crying “oh these poor women we should help them.” Who is gonna help pay their kids medical bills because their child suffered brain damage or a heart defect due to their mother’s addictive habits? You? Didn’t think so. Life’s not fair and there are too many kids born in frappe situations with bad parents and a bad lifestyle. But if we can help prevent some of that why wouldn’t we?

      • Scarlett T says:

        Crappy*

    • Sherry B says:

      Scarlett, incarceration is only a temporary solution to the problem dealing with addicts. It is my opinion from previously working with addicts on probation that they for a lot of them it’s not that easy to break the habit without going through counseling to deal with issues that they have been avoiding through drug usage, etc.
      Yes, I agree they do detox while incarcerated but most time they go right back to using drugs once their release so that’s not solving the problem just a temporary fix.

  14. Lisa S says:

    I was floored when I read the words “pregnant woman in-chains law” those are not words; I ever want to see in the same sentence. It seems there are so many opportunities for our country to learn from its mistakes, but we just never seem to learn from history. Creating consequences for women that addicted to drugs have so many additional consequences. Who takes the baby, the Dept of Children and Family services? The same system that is currently extremely overwhelmed and unable to find placements for the children that are already have in their custody. Some of the reasons why abortions are currently legal are because there was such an epidemic of women dying or being maimed because of back alley abortions. I guess I am not sure why this would not be the same. To me this means that drug addicted women would go without treatment and then what is the fate of the baby. Since 1999, over 2,000 children have been protected because of the Baby Safe Haven laws. The Safe Haven law protects the child and offers the mother an alternative to throwing a baby in a dumpster. Instead of providing adequate drug rehabilitation services for mothers willing to seek treatment, lawmakers want to send these women to jail and separate them from their baby. The average cost to stay for a 28-day inpatient drug rehab facility is close to $25,000. I am sure most drug addicts do not have $25K in their back pockets. It would be understandable to say that the child would be temporarily placed and mom sent to rehab, with the plan to reunite mother and baby. We must also talk about the father, what happens in the event that he is also a drug addict; there are no consequences for his actions? With no justification to even drug test the father, he could get custody of the baby. The entire theory just seems like an easy way to sweep a problem under the rug and calling it help.

    • Lisa-Great post! And yes, what about the father? Why is he off the hook?

    • Sherry B says:

      Lisa, excellent post! You made some very valid points especially when you addressed the cost of going into treatment centers. Most addicts don’t have any medical health coverage nor money to cover the cost of going into treatment centers. And the programs that do accept clients without medical coverage or money are always full and indivduals end up being placed on a waiting list which leads to them continuing to abuse drugs.

    • Jennifer M says:

      Lisa, great post. You bring up a lot of good questions that highlight why this law is probably not a good solution. I agree with your comments about the father too. What role do the males play in this situation? It is a difficult topic to address and I definitely don’t have a lot of sympathy for a woman who uses drugs while pregnant, but I also have experience with addicts and know that jail is not the solution to this problem.

  15. Sharriette F says:

    Women of color and women with lower incomes will be the victims of this law. Not because they excessively use drugs, pregnant or not. Because they are the targets; therefore, every move they make will be monitored. Why would a hospital give an arbitrary drug test? Why is a mother separated from bonding with her newborn almost immediately after birth? That is a far more damaging act. It seems that Haslam and the like are punishing families who happen to be different from them. When the dark comes to light, I believe it will be found that women of privilege are more prone to use drugs during pregnancy. Do they arbitrarily get tested when they enter the hospital to give birth? Or, is that limited to certain women in certain areas as a means of stealing their babies? This is simply not right. It’s a combination of racism, sexism, and elitism. That is what I will believe until or unless a woman of privilege is the victim of this “law.” In closing, despite the target of this law, why is the solution so often to penalize, instead of help? It would be more beneficial to rehabilitate the drug user, instead of incarcerating a new mother.

  16. Dylan G says:

    Tough situation all around. Once the mother gives birth, how do you go about taking away her child and arresting her? Do you wait outside of the delivery room and just handcuff her on the way up to recovery? I am all for the punishment of criminals but this seems like a harsh law which would just continue to flood our overpopulated prisons. There has got to be a better way to rehabilitate these addicts than dragging them off to jail. With proper treatment and supervision, there could be a lot more positive outcomes than with jails and foster care.

  17. Andrew D says:

    What an interesting law from our neighbor to the North. The first question that came to mind was what bout babies born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome because of the mother’s alcohol abuse during pregnancy? I did not see this mentioned in the article and I am not familiar with Tennessee’s laws to know if this is addressed elsewhere. Do these mothers go unpunished? If the goal is to improve fetal/newborn health, why are narcotics the only drugs mentioned? Yes, newborns from mothers that used narcotics are predisposed to respiratory depression but the medical community has means to address this (naloxone [Narcan] for opioiod reversal and ventilators to ensure adequate ventilatory rate and tidal volume). These babies also suffer through a physical withdrawal from the narcotic. However, other drugs do bad things to newborns as well.

    Several years ago, I delivered a newborn in the bathroom floor of a single wide to a non-minority mother high on meth that claimed she did not know she was pregnant. Not only was the delivery area extremely dirty for a delivery, but the mother had not provided her newborn with any prenatal care. This was a sad case for me, as she did not want anything to do with her newborn daughter. The newborn ended up in NICU for several weeks due to multiple complications. However, under the new TN law, would she get a free pass since meth isn’t a narcotic?

    At the end of the day, what needs to be evaluated is the overall health and wellbeing of both mother and newborn. Looking at our present society, it is clear that our current drug laws do very little in the area of discouraging drug use. How would this law be any different? I do not have an answer. What I know is that there is a need to change the behavior of these expectant mothers. Incarceration does not always equate to altering the unfavorable behavior, simply look at the recidivism rate to justify the previous statement. In the end, the question that needs to be asked is how do we change the behavior? If we can answer this question, perhaps we can correct the problem.

  18. Julie M says:

    The post and comments have made an excellent case for the health and safety of the mother and the welfare of the child, the responsibility of the father, and the potential lack of efficacy of a law that puts the mother in jail while the child grows up in the system.

    I would like to add two points to the discussion. One, assuming good intent and even good fiscal policy is behind this law, is there a similarity between prostitution laws, which may criminalize victims of sex trafficking rather than the human traffickers who forced them into that terrible situation, and this law that would criminalize addicted mothers giving birth who may also be victims in a bad situation?

    Second, could we not enforce existing drug laws that already make drug use illegal, and provide sufficient penalties for anyone who buys, sells or uses illegal drugs, with the child endangerment charge added as needed? I believe law enforcement and drug courts need additional resources to enforce existing laws, so that the mother, father, friends and relations that are part of the situation can be reached at the earliest possible moment to prevent putting children in this situation.

    Thanks!

  19. Sherry B says:

    This is a very sad and ridiculous. If your going to spend money to house them in jail instead of providing them with treatment is a step in the wrong direction. It seems it would be wiser to spend money on providing them with treatment services instead of paying the county to house mothers who are addicts. In order to deal with a problem or get rid of a problem you have to get to the root of what’s causing the problem.

  20. matthew. p says:

    Good luck policing this new law. Although I do agree that the babies are the victims and should not be subjected to the poor decisions of their parents, where does it end? If we cannot require welfare recipients to be drug tested, how are we ever going to tackle this issue. If this has become our new norm, how about forced sterilization after x amount of failed drug tests?

  21. kabaumgartel says:

    I think that if you are going to have a child that you should take care of yourself while you are pregnant with this child. You should not do anything that would put your child into harms way. There are woman who are doing illegal drugs to make this law even be put into effect. If woman were taking care of their child while they were pregnant like they should then this would not be a issue and the state would not have to get involved.

  22. Bianca M says:

    This really is a sad issue especially chaining women down when giving birth. Many women that want children can’t. I think I’m going to side with everyone who said therapy should be a option and not jail. However, therapy/rehab should be started in the initial stages of pregnancy and not when the baby is born. If and only if the mother really does not seem to care about trying to get better other options should be looked at. While reading this post I actually thought what law would be next against women? Would they make a law against women who are battling post-partum? I really think that women who are doing drugs is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in a different manner because jail is temporary and they aren’t going to be getting the help they need.

  23. La'Keiya B says:

    I think that we should focus more on helping addicted mothers overcoming their addiction than criminalizing them. Oftentimes drug addicts abuse drugs to mediate whatever psychological/physiology issues they have. So, I agree that rehab and therapy should be an option.

  24. Timothy C says:

    Shocking! While I wholeheartedly support any well reasoned and family centric effort to promote healthy fetal development- I don’t believe the efforts of the Tennessee legislature qualify for either condition. Chains- not mandated substance abuse treatment? Jail- not parenting classes? There are so many things wrong with this law, I hardly know where to start. I believe this is yet another case where those individuals in leadership are decidedly disconnected from the people they are paid to serve and protect. It is clear the propaganda behind this law is not intended to help, but to threaten those individuals falling into the lower socio economic ranks. Further, it purports to help by punishing those mothers unable to hold true to the letter of the unjust law.

  25. Shannon V says:

    I must say, this topic has certainly brought out many deep feelings and viewpoints! The problem I have with the law is that criminalizing the mother doesn’t protect the child, if that is the spirit of the law. Hauling a woman off to jail because she had narcotics in her system at the time of birth is only protecting the child during a very small window. What about the several months leading up to the birth? What about the 18 years after that? It only stands to deter someone from using for the later stages of pregnancy, because if they are using drugs in month # 4, no one will be the wiser. To me, the law makes no sense if it is “to protect the child”. It only protects the child for a brief period of time – the period before birth when the mother refrains from using because she doesn’t want to test dirty.

    In addition, what happens when they take it a step further? What if they expand the definition to not just include narcotics, but also controlled substances? How about the mom that popped a Klonopin? Not a narcotic but a controlled substance – one which potentially can cause serious birth defects? Further, what if they want to curb fetal alcohol syndrome, and therefore criminalize the mom that was sipping wine during pregnancy? I think if we open the door for something like this, there may be no reasonable end.

  26. Tinisha S. says:

    This a very touchy topic however I feel there should be some form of punishment for expecting mothers that are found with traces of substance abuse during their pregnancy. I don’t feel women who were previous addicts should be denied the right to have children. As long as they can prove they have been cleaned from some period of time, let’s just say 3 years, they should been given the right to become mothers in additions to other stipulations.

  27. Tricia P says:

    I think this law takes the wrong approach to drug use: treating it as a crime, instead of a disease. These women may be addicted to drugs, and jail time is not what they deserve. Instead of immediately locking up women with traces of drugs in their systems, the government should offer these women help. Getting help for their drug abuse could save these women in the long run, instead of jailing them and helping to continue the cycle of drug abuse.

    I also agree with Shannon’s post: this could open the doors to many different situations, where lawmakers could use the law as they see fit to punish mothers. This definitely has the potential to harm rural and economically disadvantaged women in the long run.

  28. Kari W says:

    Obviously, this is not the way to deal with drug addiction. The tax payer dollars spent on incarceration for the mother and foster care and medical bills for the child should be spent on education and drug PREVENTION in the areas where drug addicted is mothers is most prevalent. And, are they planning to make it illegal for drug addicted men to father children? Will Tennessee be drug testing every non-sterile male 24/7 to determine their eligibility to be a father? My guess is no, but why not? Drug addicted fathers make fine parents? Men aren’t responsible for the pregnancy? It would be invasive and stomp on civil liberties? It is ridiculous to believe that would solve the problem? Oh yeah, that is the one…… come on Tennessee – really?

  29. Amber Y says:

    Dr. R, come back to Tennessee! We need you. It’s gotten worse since you left, honestly. We need a man of integrity and passion like you. C’mon back, we’ll raise gobs of cash and get you in the US House. What do you say??

  30. Rebecca K says:

    I’m so glad you posted this. I heard something about this mentioned on the radio and didn’t get a chance to look into it. Assuming this law and other similar are out of health and financial concerns on the governments behalf and not moral judgments. Looking at this from a financial standpoint, putting people in jail ends up costing the tax payers a lot of money. It seems that money would be better spent on putting those individuals through a rehabilitation program. This would save on possible emergency room trips in the future and also after someone gets out of jail it’s even more difficult to gain employment which leads to even further illegal activities. Another point that came up while reading this was that if someone knows that if they go to the hospital to give birth that they will be arrested, they might not go to the hospital at all. This could easily lead to infant and mother deaths without proper health services, which defeats the entire purpose of helping the child by arresting the mother.

  31. Karen P W says:

    It’s truly telling if “Governor (R) Bill Haslam applauded the new law and shared that the women in his household were proud of his efforts to combat drug use in pregnant women”. He is not dealing with drug abuse among pregnant women, he is upholding the arrest of pregnant women who are addicted to drugs. Whatever funding is being used to treat the baby going through withdrawal, care for the baby, and to jail the mom, could indeed be used to help the mom go through a treatment plan in the same facility with the baby and help them get clean and build new life skills that prepare them for life as a parent. That means addressing under-education, unemployment, and housing. This should be mandatory. If the mom refuses to participate then you execute punishment which may include revoking the parent’s rights until they participate and jail.

  32. Nicole J says:

    I agree with this law. The unborn child has no say in the matter, and I guarantee if you asked any person if they would want their mother to get messed up while she pregnant with them, they would say no! Isn’t it forced drug abuse? What’s the difference between shooting up while pregnant and shooting up your baby after its born? The only important difference I see is the risk of birth effects. They would no longer be birth defects, they would be growth and development defects. By using drugs when pregnant from anywhere between 1 time and 9 months, they are risking birth and/or brain defects for this child for their entire life. That doesn’t seem right or fair. However, I do not agree with chaining that woman to the bed, illegal alien or not. That is inhumane and cruel. The woman is in pain enough, you think she’s gonna pop out the child and run out of the hospital? Pretty sure it takes a lot of energy and strength to birth a child and no mother is going to be running immediately after. If they are that concerned why not have a cop, or even a border patrol officer, stand watch at the door?!

  33. Teddi C says:

    It seems like this law is a little too late if the purpose is to “save the children.” The child is already born by the time the mother is arrested and my guess is that the law is not going to stop a drug addict from doing drugs. If the State of Tennessee wants to make an impact, look to prevention. Help these women before this is even an issue. Addressing the broader issues such as mental health, unemployment, and poverty could have a much greater impact.

  34. Marcus E D says:

    Let’s be clear! This law has nothing to do with hatred of women or termination of their rights. It is about consequences for an adult human being who made a CHOICE to use drugs, made a CHOICE to get pregnant (there are ways to prevent that, you know), and made a CHOICE to use drugs WHILE pregnant. What a sad state of affairs this innocent child will be born into! What is worse? A state-approved stable foster home or life with a drug addicted mother while the newborn deals with their own addictions and mental health deficits?

    Now to an answer: Incarceration seems an extreme (costly and poorly thought out) consequence. Time and time again, studies have shown that a sentence of probation, plus an out-patient drug treatment program with counseling and regular drug testing is more cost effective. Plus, it provides the opportunity for mother and child to stay together. With probation, there is still a legal consequence and a criminal record. To me, the mother’s acts are, in fact, criminal. So many times, however, the de facto answer in a Southern, conservative, traditionalistic state like Tennessee, is “lock em’ up and throw away the key!” In reality, a sentence of probation allows treatment, punishment, the fostering of a mother-child relationship, and cost savings. These are benefits conservatives and liberals can get behind…

  35. Tanya J says:

    This is a law that is made from a place of racism and hatred, sorry Marcus, I don’t recall you being there at the hearings and the mark-ups and actually listening to off the record remarks from our fine TN lawmakers and the hatred they spewed towards women and especially women of color and poverty. I don’t condone drug use, and especially while pregnant, it’s why I work with so many women, many young, scared teens who have also been abused and even raped and while yes they do know how to prevent the conception (thanks for that snarky comment Marcus) they couldn’t. This is yet another law in Tennessee that is very much about hatred. I agree that incarceration is not the answer but Marcus the lawmakers also had the CHOICE not to pass this filthy law. And they didn’t and there were ways to prevent that too.

  36. Jack H says:

    This is ridiculous to me. Women should be able to choose when they want to have a child. They know when they are going to be capable of raising a child. I don”t think this should be a crime that you get incarcerated for. there are more important things to arrest for, especially with our over crowded prison system.

  37. Mynisha C says:

    This law merely gives states and the government to much power on the lives of the individual. Especially men law makers whom never fully or will never fully experience beinging a women. That whom could and wouldn’t be able to identify or understand the issues of a women or motherhood pressures that many women face, for one. I agree that yes this would have minority and poor women as its main focus and target of such law. That would bring forth discrimination, profiling issues by the police force and social workers. As well as possibly leading to higher rates of infant mortality and abortions. From the fear of being arrested a prosecuted by the state. If they are to test mothers in this manner my question is are states willing to then seek and provided adequate recovery and detox centers for mothers? Are they willing to fund parenting classes, keep constant supervision with non criminal type manner of keeping the individual sober? Will the state provide job placement and housing to mothers once clean so that they can adequately supply healthy lifestyles to their child or children. I believe that they aren’t looking at the entire picture of consequences that are sure to follow from such policies. The governed of the body and women is a ever historical trend of the United States. One that they soon forget or regret.

    Mynisha Carter

  38. Savianna T says:

    I completely disagree with the statement about women not having the right to have babies if they are junkies. As a woman, I believe it is EVERY woman’s right to have a baby if they have the ability to do so regardless of their situation if they so desire. Yes we are strong and are made to do much more than just have babies but who else is going to? No one but us. I find it fascinating that our bodies can even handle such a thing. I think Tennessee’s laws are drastic and is not really made for concerns of the children but more so for their population. It is an easy way to wipe out babies who could possibly grow up with many issues and parents who they think are already “polluting” their society. I work for DFCS here in GA and I have encountered a mother was has given birth with a positive drug test. We don’t throw them in jail. We may more than likely take their kid away yes, but there will be services in place to help both the mother and the child. Every parent deserves that chance and every child deserves a parent whether biological or not, the attempt for the biological parent should be made before anything else. Laws that automatically throw parents in jail seem quick to judge. You don’t know their circumstances, you don’t know if they have been trying and had a quick relapse which is extremely common when trying to break a habit, or maybe they need that support and help from an outside source but instead your deciding to just toss them away. What they should be doing is finding ways to lower drug availability and access to pregnant mothers. I also don’t think the law will last long, it almost seems to harsh to.

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