A new mom in Tennessee is the first woman ever to be charged under a new state law that criminalizes drug use during pregnancy, referring to it as an "assault" on the unborn baby.

Handcuffs were slapped onto Mallory Loyola, 26, just days after she gave birth and it was discovered that her newborn tested positive for meth. The new mom confessed that she had smoked methamphetamine just days before her delivery. As she was being discharged from the hospital, Loyola was reportedly arrested and was held in jail without bond until she was recently released on $2,000 bail and charged with a misdemeanor.

The woman's past police record indicates that this is not the first time she has had trouble with the law because of her drug use. And the sad part is, even if she spends a year in jail as a result of this new law, it probably won't be her last run-in with police because she suffers from an all-consuming addiction and needs HELP, not jail time.

Proponents of the law say they hope it will encourage pregnant women to seek help for their drug problem instead of waiting and risking an arrest and separation from their baby. But they're assuming these same women weren't aware of the legal ramifications of being caught with drugs before they became pregnant. While I can understand the assumption some might make that women would do anything to protect their babies -- even give up a powerful addiction that has been eating them alive for years -- I feel they are downplaying how difficult it truly is for a drug addict to simply kick her habit, no matter what or WHO is providing her with the best reason imaginable to do so.

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Many people will argue that it's better for a baby to have no mother than a mom so preoccupied with her own drug use that she neglects her child's needs. I agree: it's dangerous to leave a baby in the care of a mom addicted to meth. But prison isn't the answer. Arresting a woman days after she gives birth is cruel. There's one positive thing about this law: addicts who enter a rehab program before birth and complete it afterward can avoid jail. But that obviously isn't going to apply to Loyola.

She has been torn away from her child during a crucial bonding time. She is being treated like a criminal instead of like a person with a sickness -- one who needs help so that her baby can have the mother she deserves. Loyola should be forced to enter rehab OR spend time in jail. And her rehab program should allow for her to spend several hours a day getting to know her infant.

Do you think it's fair for this mom to be put in jail right after the birth of her baby?

 

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