Tennessee is poised to become the first state in the United States to charge pregnant women with assault if they consume drugs while pregnant. The controversial bill passed through both chambers of the state government and is set to come to life at the beginning of July.
The bill states that, should children be born “addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug … as a result of her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant” the mother could be investigated and prosecuted for assault — harm in this case including deformities related to drug use — and if a child is stillborn or a mother miscarries as a result of illegal drug use she could be investigated and prosecuted for criminal homicide.
The bill has raised some important questions:
What does this mean for the legal definition of when life (and motherhood, in this case abuse) begins?
What does this mean in terms a setting a president for prosecution the transmission of genetic disorders or lifelong conditions like HIV?
What does this mean for women who consume substances before knowing that they are pregnant?
Alternatively, why should the law protect women (or anyone) who knowingly abuses their child, whether that is post-natal or in utero?
Let us know what you think, should women be charged with assault if their drug use during pregnancy results in ddeformity or addiction in their child when they are born?