Finally, some state legislation which makes sense medically and psychologically. Surprisingly, this comes from the state of Tennessee, a Southern state of God and guns. The enactment of legislation aimed to curb pregnancies in drug addicted women is meeting with public support on both Liberal and Conservative poles of the political spectrum in the state. Why?
The legislation is wisely framed as defense of the unborn from bodily harm by its mother. The rate of fetal addiction in Tennessee has recently skyrocketed, as it has all around the U.S.. Babies born with addiction are often born with malnutrition and other challenges to their development. They have been harmed in utero by their mother. Now, in Tennessee, this will be a crime. Unfortunately, alcohol and cigarettes have not been included in the legislation as addictive substances. Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the most damaging impairments to a newborn.
Some obstetricians are voicing fears that this legislation will impede the accessing of prenatal care by addicted women. They are in a minority. This makes sense, since an addicted pregnant woman is more likely out looking for her next fix, not shopping for the best ob-gyn.
My hope is that this legislation leads to a pairing of birth-control services with addiction treatment services. Preventing pregnancy in the addicted population is a more humane path to reducing fetal addiction than trying to detox a pregnant woman after arresting her. However, Tennessee, being in the Bible Belt, may not be prone to make this more rational approach to reducing fetal addiction. Time will tell.
In any case, as a person who sees each human being as born with the right to individual respect and the full support of parents to provide nutrition, shelter, education and security to adulthood, I see this legislation in Tennessee as a big step in the right direction. Babies are not accidents, pets or slaves. They are human beings, worthy of the full protection of society from full their fetal development in utero to subsequent birth and beyond.