Prenatal Substance Abuse, Expanding Texas Laws

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Maternal substance abuse may consist of any combination of drug, chemical, alcohol, and tobacco use during the pregnancy.

While in the womb, a fetus grows and develops due to nourishment from the mother via the placenta. However, along with nutrients, any toxins in the mother's system may be delivered to the fetus. These toxins may cause damage to the developing fetal organs. A baby also may become dependent on substances used by the mother.

WHAT CAUSES SUBSTANCE ABUSE DURING PREGNANCY?

Women using illicit substances do not intend to become pregnant in most cases. They may not realize they are pregnant. Others continue to use drugs while pregnant as a result of addiction or dependency or use them recreationally.

I have copied the text from another petition. The information is still the same today after further research. 

The proposal of this law is to be called "Sweet Pea's law".

Currently, Texas only has a law against smoking marijuana while pregnant, which is a felony with 2-20 years in prison. This law should be expanded to include additional illegal substances such as Cocaine, Heroin, and Methamphetamine. We also want the law expanded to say that using illegal substances while pregnant is child abuse, or neglect, which should carry an additional penalty such as termination of parental rights.

Women who abuse illegal drugs while pregnant should be convicted of a felony because they are chemically endangering their unborn child. Currently, it is a crime to endanger a child by exposing him/her to a controlled substance, a chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia. Yet, that same act of endangerment to an unborn baby is not a crime.

Each year in the U.S. an average of 375,000 babies are born exposed to alcohol and illicit drugs while in the uterus, according to the National Association for Prenatal Addiction Research. These babies suffer withdrawals, and much more often require ongoing medical, school, and social services to ensure they can reach their highest potential as young kids and adults that can contribute to society in a positive manner.

We want to ensure that unborn babies are protected and have a voice against mothers who choose to abuse illegal substances while pregnant. A Baby has the right to be born free of drug addiction. If there are clear consequences for mothers who choose to abuse illegal drugs while pregnant, we increase the chance of less babies being born drug exposed, and persuade expectant mothers to find current programs to help with addictions while pregnant.

In addition, all babies are currently tested at birth for drug exposure regardless of suspected drug use from the mother. The law should state that if the tests are positive in the baby, the mother should be arrested and charged with the same felony charge as smoking marijuana while pregnant.

Federal law states that a minimum prison sentence of five years for possession of any amount over five grams of Methamphetamine, and a maximum sentence of 40 years. If we are willing to convict this stringently for possession, there should be a law that convicts mothers who use illegal drugs while pregant.

Please sign this petition to help pass this law and protect children from illegal substances and provide clear consequences to mothers abusing and neglecting their unborn child.

 

More Information: 

Infant of a substance using mother

Prenatal substance abuse: short- and long-term effects on the exposed fetus.



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