Drug Use and Pregnancy

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Illegal Drug Use and Pregnancy

Drug addiction is a serious problem. The seriousness of the problem becomes exponentially more pronounced when the addict is pregnant.

Medical professionals have come to a consensus that treating drug addiction during pregnancy as a crime undermines the health of both women and their future child. However, there is an increasing trend of states pressing charges against pregnant women who are using or have used drugs.

Is It a Crime to Use Illegal Drugs While Pregnant?

The answer to this question depends the state, but generally, no. In the past, a woman typically would not be held criminally liable for using drugs while pregnant. Recently, Tennessee became the first state to criminalize drug use by pregnant women, giving prosecutors the ability to press charges as serious as aggravated assault based on the outcome of the pregnancy.

Other states have made similar attempts. South Carolina, by judicial decree, has declared viable fetuses could be treated as legal persons. This decree potentially exposes the drug addicted, pregnant women to charges like:

Additionally, Georgia, Mississippi, and other states have taken similar measures to pass "personhood" laws. The effect of these laws would be to ultimately imprison pregnant woman who are abusing drugs.

Where Can Drug Use Lead to Punishment?

The following states have deemed drug use as child abuse, subjecting the pregnant women to civil punishment.

In Alabama and, as mentioned above, South Carolina, a mother may also face criminal charges.

Should I Seek Legal Advice?

If you are pregnant or know someone who is pregnant and abusing drugs, you should seek legal advice immediately, especially if you live in a state where it is becoming criminalized. A criminal defense lawyer can help defend your rights and potentially invalidate these laws if they are broad or otherwise not constitutionally sound. A lawyer can also help you find a treatment program that would not compromise you or your child’s freedom.

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Last Modified: 06-12-2014 03:38 PM PDT

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