Having a baby is usually a joyous occasion for women and their families; however, some women experience a different result when their babies are born with drugs in their systems, threatening their livelihood and overall health. When this occurs, numerous consequences can arise, including the child being taken out of the mother’s custody.
Legal Consequences of Positive Drug Tests in Newborns
Numerous women continue to abuse drugs throughout their pregnancy, despite the many dangerous side effects it can cause to their unborn child. In many cases, this occurs as a result of an untreated addiction or because the mother is unwilling to stop despite the many warnings she might receive. Either way, when a newborn yields a positive drug test shortly after being born, there are many legal consequences. These consequences vary from state to state, but the mother can face the following:
- Reporting of abuse – In many states, including Massachusetts, Virginia, Arizona, Alaska, and Illinois, it is mandatory that medical professionals who are aware of a positive drug test in a newborn report it to social services. This report can lead to many consequences for the mother, including an investigation and the loss of the right to parent her child.
- Revocation of custody – Some states, such as Florida, Texas, and Minnesota, consider a positive drug test in a newborn as part of their child welfare laws, making it probable that social services will remove the child from the custody of the mother to prevent further abuse or neglect.
- Required treatment – Certain states, such as Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, actively require women whose babies test positive for drugs to be admitted into an inpatient treatment facility to get the help they need before being able to parent their newborn.
In addition to mothers being reported to social services, losing custody of their child, and being forced into an inpatient treatment program, some states enforce even stricter laws that serve as consequences for mothers who birth to children who test positive for drugs. In Texas, for example, a woman who uses marijuana while pregnant can face a jail term of anywhere from 2 to 20 years.
Ending Drug Addiction
For many drug-addicted women, getting pregnant is a result of a bad decision made while under the influence. However, it is important that a woman in this situation gets the care she needs to end her abuse before her baby begins developing. This can include participation in inpatient or outpatient care, as well as going through a detox program to help clear her system of any drugs that could harm the baby. Getting this kind of attention will not only save the life of the unborn child but also help the mother-to-be end her addiction once and for all.