Laws that punish women who abuse drugs during a pregnancy are often billed as a way to protect unborn babies from addiction. But new research finds they have the opposite effect: After states enact laws treating pregnant drug users as unfit mothers or criminals, the number of newborns who contend with drug withdrawal jumps significantly.
The new findings suggest that laws that criminalize a mother’s drug use during pregnancy or threaten to remove newborns from their mothers’ care discourage women from seeking addiction treatment and put their babies at greater risk of health problems from the moment they are born.
“These punitive policies are pushing women into the shadows,” said study leader Dr. Laura Faherty, a pediatrician and health policy researcher. “It’s shaming them from getting prenatal care and treatment for substance use disorder that they need to keep themselves and their babies healthy.”
To read more of Melissa Healy's article, please click here.