Lawmaker’s bill aims to help pregnant women addicted to drugs

Politics - Government

A lawmaker is trying to change how the state reports child abuse when a woman tests positive for drugs during pregnancy, or if a child is born with a drug dependence. Now, they are considering a softer approach.

The bill’s sponsor said rather than punishing pregnant women who are using drugs, instead, try moving them towards rehabilitation.

“There isn’t gonna be anyone escaping from the law for goodness sake,” said Rep. Christine Trujillo, (D) Albuquerque. “They’re going to comply with the law, they just are given a chance to correct their behaviors and keep their baby safe.”

Rep. Trujillo said in House Bill 230, instead of immediately flagging authorities that a woman is abusing drugs during her pregnancy, to instead give the soon-to-be mom what’s called a “Plan of Safe Care.” That means state organizations like CYFD, hospitals and other organizations would give guidelines to the woman to prevent future drug use during her pregnancy in hopes of delivering a healthy baby.

The plan would also require a follow up with the mother to make sure the home is safe from future drug use.

Some House Republicans don’t see this as a good way to address the problem.

“I voted against this bill because it makes it more dangerous for babies and young children in New Mexico,” said Rep. Gregg Schmedes, (R) Tijeras. “This bill removes reporting requirements for child abuse.”

According to the bill’s sponsor, CYFD and the Department of Health are in support of this bill. It passed the House Health and Human Services Committee but faced resistance with Republican committee members, and it’s expected to get the same kind of resistance at the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Another reason the bill is being pushed: CYFD said New Mexico loses about $225,000 a year because current child abuse reporting laws haven’t followed federal guidelines. This bill would fix that.

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