Update: March 24, 2016
This week, Tennessee representatives voted not to extend the legislation enacted in 2014 making it possible to charge a woman who gives birth to a drug dependent baby and who declined to seek treatment during her pregnancy. The law is set to expire in July of 2016. This office will continue to support the enactment of legislation that protects infants harmed by drug use, and that encourages pregnant women to seek treatment for their substance abuse to avoid harm to infants.
April 28, 2014
A bill signed into law today gives the state a new tool to combat the growing problem of babies born addicted to illegal or prescription drugs.
A woman who gives birth to a baby who is drug dependent or harmed by her drug use can now be charged with misdemeanor assault.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, hospitals reported that 855 infants born in Tennessee in 2013 were drug dependent. 9.8%
of those cases came out of Sullivan County.
This legislation makes it clear that Tennessee takes this growing problem seriously, and will allow our office and prosecutors across the state to
hold women accountable for behavior that causes suffering to Tennessee's babies.
For more information about drug dependency in newborns, visit the Tennessee Department of Health.