“A small but pivotal group of Tennessee representatives voted Tuesday to discontinue one of the state’s most divisive criminal laws. Known as “fetal assault,” the measure empowered prosecutors to arrest women who abuse heroin or pain pills during pregnancy, if their babies were born dependent.
A one-of-a-kind statute that criminalized drug use by pregnant women is now on track to expire in Tennessee. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN reports that the so-called fetal assault law didn’t work as planned.
This law was controversial from the outset, so it was given a two-year trial phase, and the first required renewal vote was from a legislative committee chaired by Republican Andrew Farmer of East Tennessee. He said he’s just heard too many instances of addicted women scared away from prenatal care because they feared that might land them in jail.”