Tennessee Will Now Criminally Charge Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs
Governor Bill Haslam has signed a measure into law that will charge pregnant women who use drugs with harming their fetuses.
The governor’s approval of the legislation comes despite a massive outcry from reproductive rights and criminal justice groups across the country, who say that criminalizing pregnant women is the wrong policy approach. Threatening to bring charges against women who are struggling with substance abuse dissuades them from coming forward to seek the medical treatment they need. It’s also a policy that disproportionately harms low-income and non-white women.
“Today, the Tennessee governor has made it a crime to carry a pregnancy to term if you struggle with addiction or substance abuse,” Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said. “This deeply misguided law will force those women who need health care the most into the shadows. Pregnant women with addictions need better access to health care, not jail time.”