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Is drug use during pregnancy a crime?

On Behalf of | Oct 31, 2017 | Criminal Defense

There is no denying that there is a huge drug crisis in this country and in Louisiana. Opioid use, in particular, is especially an issue. This means that there are also more babies being born to addicted mothers. People wonder if having a baby addicted to drugs is a crime. Can a mother be arrested or jailed because she used drugs during her pregnancy? The answer is more difficult than one would think.

According to The Shreveport Times, Louisiana is slow to address the issue of women using drugs during pregnancy and having drug-addicted babies. Medical professionals are begging legislators to take action to get these women help, but the state, as a whole, is just in the beginning phases of figuring out how to deal with the issue. Basically, there is only a request that medical professionals report cases to the state and for doctors to test women to determine drug use status. The state does not have a program to help pregnant women who are addicted to opioids.

When a baby is born addicted to drugs, it experiences withdrawal symptoms. These may include shaking vomiting and diarrhea. These babies may be difficult to console, which means they cry a lot. Plus, there is not enough information yet to determine what will happen to the babies in the long-term and how it will affect their development.

Addiction Now notes that arresting drug addicted pregnant women is not the best answer. It has been found it can deter women from seeking legitimate help for their issues out of fear of going to jail. Right now, there is no state that criminalizes drug use during pregnancy.