“Emily Baker, a Florida mother, was prescribed buprenorphine by her doctor to manage her opiate addiction. She’d been opiate-free for three years when she conceived her second child. Despite taking a medication that was prescribed and monitored by her doctor, the hospital reported her to the state Department of Children and Families immediately after she delivered.
For women who use drugs during pregnancy, the stakes are high. Women who give birth to babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) are being criminalized—and their babies are suffering as a result. In Tennessee, mothers are being arrested if their baby is born with NAS, even if the dependency is a result of the mother taking medication prescribed and monitored by her doctor. In Alabama, prosecutors are using a law initially intended to keep children away from meth labs to charge women with “chemical endangerment” of their babies. Texas and Wisconsin are seeing similar cases.
Women, particularly poor women and women of color, are having their babies taken by child protective services, sometimes while they are thrown in jail, for an alleged addiction that needs treatment, not punishment. While this isn’t a new problem, mainstream recognition of a national “opiate epidemic” has politicians scrambling for solutions. But these carceral and punitive responses are dangerous and attack the symptom, not the root cause. With so much at stake, the NAS treatment babies are getting in the hospital after their birth may be contributing to the problem.
How did we get here?”
Also see related article: Jailed for Using Drugs While Pregnant available at:
Source: RHRealityCheck.org – October 13, 2015