July 12, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.