Should Mothers Who Drug Babies Be Prosecuted?


A Nashville prostitute has been jailed in the 2007 death of her 16-day-old son whose body was full of drugs, reports The Tennessean. About six such cases each year are filed in Nashville’s Davidson County. Tennessee does not tracks the numbers of these cases, but the New York-based National Advocates for Pregnant Women believes prosecutions may be on the rise. The group, which plans a report this year, believes drug-addicted mothers shouldn’t be criminalized.

Prosecutions are a waste of time and typically a lose-lose situation for mother and baby, said Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton, director of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society “Prosecution does not deter drug use,” she said. “There is nothing to be gained by the child, the mother or the prosecution.” There is no arguing drugs are bad for the fetus, but Clayton said many studies show the effects on newborns are much less adverse than originally thought.

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