Fetal Assault Law Set to Expire, Some Want It To, Others Don't

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Healthy & Free Tennessee told WGNS that a hearing on what they consider to be harmful policy will be held on Tuesday (3/8/16). The fetal assault law is set to expire on July 1, 2016 if no action is taken by lawmakers. However, politicians want to delete the expiration date of the law to keep it on the books indefinitely, which will allow for pregnant mothers found to be using drugs to be arrested and then incarcerated if found guilty. The non profit Healthy & Free Tennessee want the law to expire and not continue.

Allison Glass is the State Director of Healthy & Free, she told us, "House Bill 1660 would extend the harmful Tennessee fetal assault law, which threatens pregnant women and new mothers with jail with the stated goal of getting them into treatment. However the law does nothing to help expand access to services even though it has been shown that there are not enough facilities that are able or willing to treat pregnant women. As a result, this law is forcing women into the criminal justice system because they do not have other options."

In Murfreesboro, State Representative Dr. Bryan Terry (R) confirmed that the situation is very serious with children being born with a variety of syndromes, some caused by their mothers using drugs while pregnant.

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The fetal assault law was originally passed in 2014 in Tennessee. It allows mothers of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) to be charged with "Fetal Assault." NAS occurs when soon to be mothers take opiates during their pregnancy.

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  • WHAT: House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Hearing on House Bill 1660
  • WHEN: Tuesday, March 8th at 1:30pm
  • WHERE: Legislative Plaza Room 29, Tennessee State House, Nashville, TN

  • The fetal assault law is set to expire on July 1, 2016 if no action is taken by lawmakers.
    However, politicians want to delete the expiration date of the law to keep it on the books
    indefinitely, which will allow for pregnant mothers found to be using drugs to be arrested
    and then incarcerated if found guilty.

HB 1660:

Criminal Offenses - As introduced, deletes the July 1, 2016, termination date for legislation permitting the prosecution of a woman for assault of a fetus based on her illegal use of narcotic drugs while pregnant and creating the affirmative defense that the woman completed an addiction recovery program. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 13, Part 1 and Chapter 820 of the Public Acts of 2014.

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babies, drug use, Fetal Assault Law, Healthy & Free, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, newborn
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