Legal fight over parental drug use may do untold harm

Parenthood is one of life’s most sacred offices, and being a successful parent is surely the most treasured reward on the journey. Children rely completely on their caretakers for years after birth, which makes that responsibility especially important.

Some lawmakers in North Carolina are on a mission to reduce the injuries and deaths experienced by babies due to parental drug use. A proposed bill would make drug use during pregnancy a crime regardless of any harm done to the fetus. It would also reduce the state’s responsibility to reunite families after an experience with fetal drug use.

Others oppose the bill on the basis of protecting infants from trauma. Their claim is that separation of families just after birth can do irreversible damage to a baby’s brain. The bill, if it became law, may also prevent drug users from seeking vital medical care during pregnancy, which would have far-reaching effects on neonatal health.

“It opens the door for prosecuting people who can get pregnant for anything that can harm a fetus,” claimed an advocate for recovering users. “What if you’re not exercising enough, what if you don’t have healthcare when we know that prenatal care is the biggest determinant of fetal health? We are really invested in stopping the bill.”

Parents who are concerned for their child’s safety or believe their child was injured by a similar policy have the right to seek legal representation. An attorney can help parents examine the situation and manage the results, which may include a civil suit for financial damages to help with recovery.

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