New Tenn. Bill Allows Drug-Addicted Pregnant Women to Be Prosecuted

Jezebel posted the story “New Tenn. Bill Allows Drug-Addicted Pregnant Women to Be Prosecuted

A new bill just passed by Tennessee’s state legislature would allow women to be charged with assault or homicide if they have a pregnancy complication after using illegal narcotics. Troublingly, the legislation’s language is so broad that advocates fear it may be used to prosecute pregnant women for non-drug-related offenses; furthermore, experts argue that it’s far too punitive to be effective.

The bill — which has been passed in both the state Senate and House and needs only the governor’s signature to go into effect — states that “a mother can be prosecuted for an assaultive offense or homicide” if her child is “born addicted, is harmed, or dies” due to her illegal drug use during pregnancy. But, as Farah Diaz-Tello of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women told RH Reality Check, the law “in no way limits the prosecution to misdemeanor assault, nor does it limit the prosecution to women who are illegally taking narcotics.” And, because “criminal investigation is the only way to rule out an unlawful act,” any woman who miscarries or gives birth to a baby with health issues could be subject to one.

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