KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A state law aimed at taking on the issue of babies born dependent on drugs ends on July 1. Under the fetal assault law, women could be prosecuted for taking drugs while pregnant and it was designed to urge them into treatment.
Blount County resident Brittany Hudson was one of first to be prosecuted under this law. Hudson says the law actually discouraged her from seeking treatment. She went to Nashville earlier this year and pushed lawmakers not to renew the law. Lawmakers voted to not renew the law in March, so it will expire on Friday.
Hudson says she is glad the law is ending. She says the law had good intentions to stop babies from being born drug dependent but enough resources weren’t available to help the women in need. Hudson says more treatment centers are needed.
Hudson had her baby in October 2014. Under the fetal assault law she was charged for taking drugs while pregnant.
“I was using opiates doing IV drug use then I ended up delivering my baby on the side of the road,” said Hudson.Previous story:Knoxville woman relieved fetal assault law will expire in July
She says there were waiting lists to get into treatment centers. She ended up using drugs again. Hudson says it was losing custody of her daughter, not the law that gave her the will to get clean.
“I just didn’t want to use anymore. I wanted my child back and I knew if I got high I wasn’t going to get that,” said Hudson.
She says the law had good intentions but didn’t help.
“For that law to be a success the babies would need to be born clean, which wasn’t happening,” said Hudson.
Deborah Huddleston with the Metro Drug Coalition explained what she thinks the solutions are to stop mothers from using drugs while pregnant.Related story:82 new laws to take effect in Tennessee July 1
“Educating women of child bearing age to be using contraceptives and also getting birth control and also educating them about the dangers of using drugs during pregnancy,” said Huddleston.
Hudson has since changed her life. She’s been clean for 18 months and now has joint custody of her daughter. She also works at the Renaissance Recovery Group helping other pregnant women get clean.
“I may not be able to save every woman in this building but if I can save one and save a baby that’s good enough for me,” said Hudson.
According to the Metro Drug Coalition the Safe Harbor Act is still in place. This means if a woman enters prenatal care and treatment by the 20th week of pregnancy DCS will not take their child, if the only reason is because of the mother’s drug use. If there are safety issues DCS may intervene.
For drug treatment resources call Tennessee Redline at 1-800-889-9789.