We have been talking to you for a while about the Tennessee law that threatens women with jail time if they give birth to babies who are shown to have been affected by the use of narcotics during pregnancy. As a result, women are being randomly drug tested in the hospital after giving birth, and arrested days after bringing home their babies. Others are being targeted for disclosing a past history of drug use at a prenatal visit. And while proponents claim that it is helping people to get treatment, it just is not true because there is not enough treatment available.
The law is scheduled to sunset (expire) later this year, but there is a bill to permanently extend this harmful policy – and it is coming up for a hearing next Tuesday! This law has to go! We need your help to oppose HB 1660 and let the fetal assault law sunset.
→ Letters to the Editor: Writing a letter to your local paper is a great way to show support for the sunset. Just go to the website of your local paper to find the rules and the process for submission – click here. We have included a few talking points below. Do not hesitate to reach out to Healthy and Free TN (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss resources or seek assistance in submitting a letter.
Talking Points on House Bill 1660 and the Fetal Assault Law
- However you feel about the criminal justice system, it is not a substitute for healthcare. That is why jail is not the right place to send people who may have substance abuse disorder.
- As a result of the Tennessee fetal assault law mothers are being arrested and sent to jail instead of helping them to find the treatment they need.
- Policies that imprison moms struggling with addiction instead of ensuring they are able to access treatment does not help them or their families.
- This law goes against the recommended standard of care for treatment for drug use.
- Instead of judging mothers, we should commit to improving the treatment options and ensure that health providers are trained to address the specific needs of pregnant women.
- We should work towards solutions that are designed to address public health issues rather than just punishing people or pushing narrow-minded political agendas.
- The “ask” (important to include): We need to oppose House Bill 1660, let the fetal assault law sunset and instead work towards evidence based policies that support the health of women and their children.
→ Social Media: Help us spread the word and generate attention. Share a post with the tags #letitsunset and #TNleg.
Pregnant women and new mothers who have used drugs are being told that they can avoid jail time if they seek drug treatment, but there are not enough facilities willing or able to treat pregnant women. Tennessee lawmakers need to oppose House Bill 1660, let the fetal assault law sunset and focus on creating fair and effective policies that actually help support the health of women and their babies. #letitsunset #healthcarenothandcuffs #TNleg
- #TNleg: Oppose HB1660 which permanently extends harmful fetal assault law and makes it harder for women to seek treatment. #letitsunset
- #TNleg: Oppose HB1660. Let fetal assault law sunset&focus on fair&effective policies to support health of women &their babies. #letitsunset
- Women are told they can avoid jail time if they seek drug treatment, but there are not enough facilities available. #TNleg: #letitsunset!
Together we can make sure to let it sunset, so we can work to create fair and effective policies that actually support the health of women and their families. Please, help us to put an end to this dangerous law by taking action TODAY!
Allison, Dana, Katie and the rest of the Healthy and Free TN Team