Last week Tennessee passed legislation that would make drug use during a pregnancy a criminal offense. If the governor doesn’t veto it, the state would be allowed to investigate every miscarriage, stillbirth, and baby born with birth defects to try to determine if drugs played a role, turning any pregnant person into a potential suspect.
We’ve written extensively before about the growing criminalization of pregnancy, but Tennessee’s law is actually a first. While hundreds of women — mostly poor, young, Black women who used drugs — have been held criminally liable for the outcomes of their pregnancies under “fetal harm” laws, those laws were never actually intended to the be used that way. If Tennessee’s bill becomes law, it would be the first state in the country to explicitly criminalize harm due to drug use during pregnancy. Read More