Some fear bill will hurt babies born addicted

SHEILA BURKE Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Opponents of a Tennessee bill that would punish pregnant women who abuse narcotics say it will have the unintended consequence of hurting the very people it’s supposed to protect: the babies.

Doctors and women’s rights advocates have called on Gov. Bill Haslam to veto a bill that would allow women to be charged with assault if they abuse narcotics while pregnant and then give birth to a child who is dependent on drugs. National Advocates for Pregnant Women says despite attempts by other states, Tennessee is the first state to pass such a law.

The bill’s supporters have argued that too many babies are born addicted. Opponents fear women will avoid prenatal care and won’t seek help if their babies show signs of dependence after they leave the maternity ward.