Felony Charge Proposed For Mothers Who Deliver Drug Addicted Babies

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Currently in Iowa, if a baby is born with a drug addiction the hospital will contact the Department of Human Services.  There is no legal action required but a bill heading to the Iowa House floor is looking to change that.

House Study Bill 49 has passed a committee and will move on for debate on the House floor.  If passed, the mother of a drug-addicted baby could be hit with a class D felony and face up to 5 years in prison.

"If they don't voluntarily accept the treatment, and hunger for the treatment.  I got no problem with incarcerating them and forcing the treatment on them,” Rep. Baudler says.

Representative from Greenfield, Chel Baudler is the sponsor of the bill.

Representative Mary Wolfe from Clinton has many concerns.   She thinks the law might cause mothers to avoid prenatal care or the hospital altogether in an effort to avoid punishment.

“When they go into labor they will decide not to go to the hospital to have their baby, but have their baby at home or in an alley,” Rep. Wolfe says.

A recent study shows three in every 1,000 babies are born with drug addictions and treating the infants is not cheap.  Hospital charges for weaning babies off drugs totals over $720 billion nationally.

Representative Wolfe believes the House should use their power to redirect that money into funding for programs.

The passed the Iowa House Public Safety Committee on a 15-6 vote.