TN Changes Attitude On Mothers

26 August 2016 Written by 

Tennessee Looks to Help Pregnant Women Addicted To Drugs Instead Of Punishing Them


From Addiction Professional By Gary A. Enos, Editor: With a controversial measure to prosecute some Tennessee mothers having expired, discussion in the state suddenly has turned to the need for more funding support for treatment of pregnant women.

Could Tennessee move, within a period of just a couple of years, from a state roundly criticized for a punitive approach to pregnant women addicted to drugs to one that puts significant money behind getting these women into effective treatment?

The executive director of a state association of substance use treatment and prevention professionals believes advocates have momentum for encouraging a significant state budget infusion for treatment, with discussions ongoing in the weeks following the July sunset of the state's 2014 amendment to the fetal assault law (Public Acts Chapter 820). The measure had subjected to prosecution those women who used an illegal drug while pregnant and whose babies were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

Mary-Linden Salter, executive director of the Tennessee Association for Alcohol, Drug & other Addiction Services (TAADAS), tells Addiction Professional that she credits the treatment community for a pivotal advocacy role that led earlier this year to a legislative vote killing a measure that would have extended the fetal assault law beyond its July 1 sunset date.

Read more: Tone of Tennessee discussion of pregnant drug-using women changes dramatically

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