Editorial: Babies who inherit drug problems

Tennessee lawmakers don’t want mothers to harm their babies by passing along dangerous drugs when they are born.

Abuse of opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, has skyrocketed in Tennessee and consequently the number of babies born dependent on drugs has increased fifteenfold during the last 10 years.

To slow down this problem, the state passed a new law in 2014 that would permit charging women who give birth to babies damaged by mom’s drugs with misdemeanor assault.

This measure was taken because so many babies were being diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome – a condition that is painful but treatable and has underdetermined long-term consequences.

Other states have tried to address this problem but Tennessee is the first to allow them to be charged with a crime.

The goal is to push women into treatment and to save the lives or suffering of their babies. But liberals claim the law deters women from seeking prenatal care because of the fear of prosecution. They say some women have left Tennessee because of this.

In 2015, only about 30 women were arrested for this and only one spent time in jail. Most were sent through drug treatment.

The American Medical Association doesn’t like these laws and calls them ineffective. Some pregnant women use prescription drugs that are completely legal but still are transferred to their babies.

But many of these drugs give the baby a 50 percent chance of having neonatal abstinence syndrome. About 900 cases of the syndrome in Tennessee were reported in 2015 and only half of those mothers were using legally prescribed drugs.

This is a terrible problem that is an expected result from a culture that diminishes the life of an unborn child. When liberals like Planned Parenthood refer to unborn babies as “blobs of tissue,” a drug addicted mother feels better about not shielding her baby from the effects of her drug abuse.

You reap what you sow. It’s unfortunate that the victims in this case are helpless babies.