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Leniency Laws For Opiate Addicted Pregnant Mothers

More and more children are being born addicted to opiates. When a expecting mother is addicted to a drug like opiates and does not get help, when the baby is delivered it is already addicted to the drug. This is not the way you want to bring your child into the world, but many mothers fear asking for help because they are afraid they will lose their child to Child Protective Services.

In the state of Michigan, they already have a law known as the Safe Delivery of Newborns act which allows women to turn their babies over to a staff member at any hospital, fire station, police department or emergency service provider. In Michigan you do not have to abandon a child. Michigan is looking into a new law that will protect mothers who are addicted to drugs. It will allow them to turn themselves over to medical care before the babies are born without the fear of losing their child.

In the Blue Water Area and across the state and nation, a rising number of babies are being born addicted to the same drugs that their mothers have become dependent upon. As the growing epidemic of opiate addiction strikes more women, it’s inevitable that more infants will be born addicted to prescription opiates or illicit street drugs such as heroin.

Heroin addiction is a tragedy for anyone. It carries an extra risk for pregnant women and their unborn children. Women addicted to drugs avoid prenatal care, partly out of ignorance but largely out of fear that their drug use will expose themselves to legal jeopardy, and could lead to Child Protective Services sanctions and the loss of parental rights.

CPS defines drug abuse by a pregnant woman as child abuse. That doesn’t automatically mean she will lose custody of her newborn child. The first priority of CPS is always to keep families together, but loss of parental rights is always a possibility.

Such a possibility is dangerous and counterproductive say a wide range of important health organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society on Addiction Medicine and others. They say the main effect of punitive polices is to prompt women to hide drug abuse from the people best able to help them and to avoid prenatal care, which only adds to the burdens their unborn children will bring into the world.

Instead, what’s needed is an approach that stresses education and treatment and that encourages women to participate without threat of sanction or the loss of their child. It's in the best interest of the child for their mother to be clean with the help of medical professionals without the fear of losing the child or facing criminal penalties.


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