April 29, 2014
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NASHVILLE – The American Civil Liberties Union sharply criticized Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for signing a dangerous law that would give prosecutors the authority to bring criminal charges against a woman who chooses to continue her pregnancy to term while struggling with a drug dependency, even while she is in treatment. Haslam signed SB 1391 despite widespread calls for a veto and objections from doctors.
“Today, the Tennessee governor has made it a crime to carry a pregnancy to term if you struggle with addiction or substance abuse,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This deeply misguided law will force those women who need health care the most into the shadows. Pregnant women with addictions need better access to health care, not jail time.”
Using criminal laws to punish pregnant women who are struggling with addiction makes for bad law and even worse public policy. Leading medical groups like the American Medical Association and the American
Academy of Pediatrics have long opposed these types of laws because they drive women out of the health care system for fear of being prosecuted.
A list of position statements of medical associations opposing criminal sanctions for pregnant women is available at: