“Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or NAS is occurring at increasing rates across the nation, leaving states grappling with treating drug-dependent newborns and whether to charge, prosecute and incarcerate pregnant women who test positive for illegal drug use.
Although awareness of NAS has increased over the last several years, state lawmakers and prosecutors have struggled for decades with how to address drug use among pregnant women. This year, Tennessee became the first state to statutorily criminalize drug use during pregnancy by permitting prosecutors to file assault charges against pregnant women who use certain controlled substances. Alabama and South Carolina are currently the only two states where courts have held that laws meant to protect children from exposure to drugs apply to unborn fetuses. County prosecutors in Calhoun County, Alabama recently announced they will soon begin charging pregnant women who test positive for drugs.
A comprehensive approach should focus not on charging, prosecuting and incarcerating pregnant women, but rather on educating them about the effects drug use can have on their unborn children and on providing treatment which can ultimately protect the health and safety of mother and child.”
Source: – JoinTogether.org – October 29, 2014