Tennessee bill would charge pregnant women who use illegal drugs

Lawmakers in Tennessee introduced a bill that would charge women with assault if found to have used illegal drugs while pregnant and if the baby was born addicted or harmed by the drug use. 

The bill, known as HB1168 and SB658, was filed by state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Tenn.) and state Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tenn.), a local CBS station reported Tuesday.


Under the legislation, a woman could be prosecuted for assault if she is found guilty of using an illegal narcotic drug during her pregnancy and if the baby is “born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug and the addiction or harm is a result of the woman's illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant.”

The bill also states that a defense from prosecution will be permitted if a woman is “actively enrolled in an addiction recovery program before the child is born, remained in the program after delivery, and successfully completed the program, regardless of whether the child was born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug.”

The measure would take effect July 1, 2019, if passed. 

The bill comes weeks after Republican lawmakers in the state captured headlines after filing a bill that would sentence those found guilty of aggravated rape of a child to life in prison.