Last year Tennessee became the first state to make doing drugs while pregnant a crime. Obama’s czar, drug addiction counselors, and doctors do not believe threatening pregnant women with imprisonment will help treat their condition. It will make the situation more stressful and, as a result, the women will result back to drugs. The punishment for pregnant mothers who chose to do narcotic drugs while pregnant is imprisonment for up to 15 years. Since July women have been charged with assault and placed into treatment programs after being imprisoned.
Investigators have revealed the shocking truth about pregnant women since this law was implemented. The women are afraid to receive prenatal care in fear that they will be arrested or punished. Just like indulging in narcotics, the absence of prenatal care can cause harm to the unborn child. Some women have gone as far as skipping state to give birth in order to avoid the consequences. Jamillah Falls is the second woman to get arrested for using narcotics while pregnant. When Falls gave birth her newborn baby tested positive for heroin.
As a result of her newborn testing positive Falls served a six-month sentence according to WREG. Alternet was informed by the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office that Falls failed to meet the guidelines of her probation. According to the founder of the reproductive rights group SisterReach, Falls had a difficult time while enrolled in her treatment program. Has was reportedly stressed out about being away from her baby and the criminal charge that still remains and haunts her. In order to remain in the halfway house, Falls must maintain a job. Job hunting became an obstacle having to deal with the headline “Pregnant heroin addict”.
The search became so strenuous that she even asked the SistersReach founder, Cherisse Scott, for a job within her organization. “It’s what we feared. Women already dealing with poverty trying to maintain beyond the detox mandate. Now they have to deal with the stress of the court system, of urine samples, appointments” Said Scott. “This is exactly how this law is intended to work,” says Diaz-Tello. “It was never intended to get people help. It’s a method for criminalizing women for the outcome of their pregnancy. It bears out all of the warnings that advocates for women’s health tried to sound the alarm.”
“We think of treatment as being a therapeutic relationship; That’s confidential, that it helps a person get their problem under control. But for people under supervision by the correctional system, it’s just another form of state surveillance” said Scott in response to Diaz-Tello. The question has been thrown on the table as to whether or not this punishment is fair for pregnant women or should they be sent to treatment programs.