Some of them are about to become criminals in Tennessee, per the New York Times: Criminalizing Expectant Mothers – NYTimes.com.
Even by the standards of the growing Republican assault on the lives and rights of women, a new bill passed by bipartisan majorities in both houses of Tennessee’s Legislature recently stands out for being meanspirited and counterproductive.
If signed by the state’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, the legislation would give Tennessee the dubious distinction of being the first state to specifically authorize the filing of assault charges, carrying up to 15 years in prison, when a fetus or newborn is deemed to be harmed by illegal narcotics. Once the bill reaches his desk, Mr. Haslam will have 10 days to veto or sign it before it automatically becomes law. He can show he truly cares about protecting pregnant women, children and families by vetoing the bill, as specialists in obstetric medicine and drug addiction, as well as women’s rights groups have urged.
Erik Eckholm reported in The Times this week that medical authorities say any risks of narcotics to newborns have been exaggerated and withdrawal symptoms can be effectively treated with no long-term effects. The measure’s main impact, critics of the measure warn, would be to harm babies by making pregnant women fear seeking medical care. It could also lead some women to have abortions to avoid criminal penalties with long-range consequences, including their ability to earn a living.