Indiana Attorney General suggests requiring drug-testing for pregnant women

Citing the cost of treating infants exposed to addictive drugs, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is calling on the state legislature to require the drug-testing of pregnant women:

It is called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, newborns exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs before they are born.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller says treating NAS at Indiana hospitals cost an estimated $30 million in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, and he says that’s with limited tracking because hospitals are not required to report the condition.

Zoeller says one solution is requiring pregnant women take drug tests to identify the problem and start treatment before birth.

“You can reduce the length of stay for the newly born baby from six weeks to two weeks, the better health of the baby as well as the costs,” he say.s [sic]

This may sound reasonable at the surface, but the reality is that systemically drug-testing pregnant women rarely leads to effective treatment, and much more often leads to the criminalization of pregnant women–particularly women of color. The moral panic around “crack babies” and the racialized narrative it created around drug-addicted pregnant women is a perfect example of how stories of addiction and pregnancy are shaped. In fact, as we’ve covered before, a recent report by National Advocates for Pregnant Women details the trend of criminalizing pregnant women, its disproportionate impact on immigrant women and women of color, and the ways that anti-choice measures like fetal personhood initiatives are being used to criminalize pregnancy. 

Indiana in particular has a pretty poor record when it comes to these issues: they were the first state to de-fund Planned Parenthood, and Indiana is where Bei Bei Shuai was charged with murder for attempting suicide while pregnant (thankfully her charges were dropped, but only after years of fighting them).

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