Taking aim at drug use in pregnancy
Authorities usually can pinpoint newborn babies who have been exposed to illegal drugs in the womb.
Currently, there is little that can be done about it.
A recent bill heading through the state Legislature would charge a mother with child abuse if her baby tests positive at birth for controlled substances.
If passed, House Bill 05-1141 states that a child born with some controlled substances in its body other than those prescribed by a doctor would be surrendered to protective services. The bill would go into effect July 1, according to the current draft.
Marie Peer, director of Moffat County Social Services, said such a law would be useful to show that using drugs while pregnant clearly is wrong.
“I think it would be really helpful,” Peer said of the bill. “There’s not much doubt that it is abusive. It would make it much easier to help families in this situation.”
Peer said she currently knows of two children in foster care who were born addicted to drugs.
She wasn’t aware whether there is a system in place to check whether newborns are born with a drug add-iction.
Drug-addicted babies are born inconsolable or shaky, Peer said.
Craig Police Lt. John Forgay said he thought the department would be aggressive in enforcing the measure. He said it’s sometimes apparent when a baby is born addicted to drugs, but law enforcement personnel often have their hands tied.
“I personally think that people should be charged if they’re that irresponsible,” he said.
“It makes it very hard when (those issues) aren’t covered by the law. If someone is using drug, there are many more chances for complications.”
The bill would make it a crime for a mother to be under the influence of controlled substance Schedule I and II drugs. Those include drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, among others.
Craig Police Sgt. Bill Leonard said the bill could add teeth to a problem law enforcement deals with.
“Basically, it says if you’re doing drugs and you’re pregnant, you’re going to get charged,” he said.
“It says the hospital will have to report it.”
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@-craigdailypress.com
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