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State representative sponsors bill to drug test pregnant women

Posted: Feb 20, 2009 10:58 PM

6 News Anchor/Reporter

CLINTON (WATE) -- Should women who miscarry, have premature babies or have babies with birth defects face mandatory drug and alcohol testing? That's what a current bill proposes in the Tennessee legislature. 

"The original intent of this bill has always been directed toward helping those children who are born addicted receive adequate healthcare," says the bill's sponsor, State Representative Jim Hackworth from Anderson County.

But that is nowhere in the bill.

"The bill ultimately, I think, is poorly written for the intent for what I asked for to begin with. I'm working with an attorney currently to make sure we get the bill closer to the form we wanted it and need it to be," Hackworth says.

What is in the current bill? A list of reasons pregnant women might be tested for alcohol and drugs, including incomplete prenatal care, preterm labor of no obvious cause and previously known alcohol or drug abuse.

The bill goes on to state that "Any woman who tests positive....shall be referred to treatment.." and that a doctor "shall report each woman who refuses to seek treatment....to the Department of Children's Services."

"The intent here has never been to force anybody into any situation. If women voluntarily want support and help to ensure a healthy pregnancy and ask for help I think we should ensure they are referred to the proper care," Hackworth says.

He does want DCS notified when an addicted baby is born, but that information could not be used in criminal prosecution.

Hackworth says the idea for the bill actually came in an email from one of his constituents, a lab assistant at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge who witnessed the effects on a baby born to a drug addicted mother.

"It would have seizures just going through withdrawals and the nurses would talk about how the baby would just cry all night and they couldn't really console the baby," says Amanda Hutton.

The Tennessee Pregnant Women Support Act will have to pass through several committees and hearings in both the state house and senate in order to become law.  

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Mar. 18, 2009 at 3:00 AM

Can you say "invasion of privacy"??

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Mar. 18, 2009 at 4:33 AM OH my gosh@!!!!! My son was born at 26 weeks, through no fault of my own, it was something I couldn't control. I was not addicted to anything, on any kind of drug and did EVERYTHING they told me to do! I would be soo mad if they told me they were going to test me to see if I had taken anything when I was pregnant!!! I'm sorry but that has my blood boiling...NOT EVERYONE WHO HAS A PREEMIE DID SOMETHING TO CAUSE IT!!! As a matter of fact, most of the time they will never know what caused a woman to have a baby prematurely (as in my case they knew I had low amniotic fluid, they just didn't know why, and still don't, even after all of the tests). They only did the tests because I wanted them as well...I needed answers, and even with them I didn't get any. Ugh....I will fight this tooth and nail if they try it in California!!! Thank you for posting!

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Mar. 18, 2009 at 6:42 AM

I KNOW when I miscarried I was NOT doing drugs!   I was breastfeeding a six month old. That is just a most ridiculous bill to pass especially when they should be passing drug testing for those using the system instead. Those that collect and sit on their butts all day without even trying to get a job or stop using food stamps. 

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Mar. 18, 2009 at 9:02 AM

One concern I have is that women who are pregnant and using drugs may not see help when pregnant or delivering. Thus, a baby that would need extra care may not get that extra care in an effort for the mother to hide her drug use. This is one of those solutions that seems like a nice or good idea at first glance but really just treats a symptom and not the problem.

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Mar. 18, 2009 at 10:31 AM

It seems the Department of Children and Family Services already intrudes here in Florida.  My babies and I were drug tested after the births of two of my premature children and one was only two weeks early!  The worst part of it is they didn't inform me they were testing.  I can say "invasion of privacy" because that is exactly what it is!

Oh, and for the record, NO DRUGS.

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Mar. 18, 2009 at 12:03 PM

So because I miscarried, I can never have a glass of wine again. Oh yeah that's great! NOT!!! WTH??? I thouhgt Obama said he did not want a BIG Brother Government????

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Mar. 18, 2009 at 12:15 PM

I don't support mandatory drug testing for ANYONE but this is just a new low. 

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Mar. 18, 2009 at 12:20 PM

It's not about preventing anyone from having a glass of wine after a miscarriage or delivering prematurely. And it's NOT a federal bill.  This article is about a bill submitted to the Tennessee legislature.

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Mar. 18, 2009 at 12:49 PM

mama4Christ361, this is not a federal law, it's a bill submitted to the TN legislature. It's a state by state law, and there have been other bills submitted to at least two other states. It has ZERO to do with Obama or federal government

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Mar. 18, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Alcohol doesn't stay in your system very long, Mama4Christ361. If you had one glass of wine on Friday night and delivered your baby Saturday morning, you wouldn't test positive for alcohol, not that I recommend having a glass of wine while pregnant. I'm just saying that for an alcohol test to show up positive you would have to have alcohol within several hours of your delivery.

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