Born an Addict: Is the Mother a Criminal?
Pregnant women are warned time and time again to avoid using drugs, whether legal or illegal, during their pregnancies. But according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 19% of pregnant women between 2002 and 2007 drank alcohol during the first trimester of their pregnancies, and the statistics with marijuana and cigarettes were similar.
Enoch was born in September 2012 in Utah. At his birth, Enoch was addicted to cocaine, heroin, and prescription drugs. Shea Renee Sheeran, Enoch’s birth mother, allegedly used these drugs during her pregnancy. Cocaine and heroin stay in a fetus’ system longer than an adult’s, and increases the risk of miscarriage, placental abruption, preterm birth, and birth defects.
In November, Sheeran was charged with child abuse due to her illegal drug use during her pregnancy. Sheeran gave Enoch up in order to get a lighter sentence.
“We love this young lady, she had the courage,” said Enoch's adoptive mom. “She might not have done the right thing when she was pregnant with him, but in the end, when it counted, she did the right thing.”
While doctors treated Enoch for his addiction and he went through withdrawals, his adoptive family stayed by his crib for 16 hours every day.
According to WebMD, even prescription drugs and caffeine can be harmful during pregnancy and according to National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), more than 18 states in the U.S. mention drug use by pregnant women in their civil child neglect laws.
While I do understand the need for sympathy and treatment of pregnant women with addictions, I also think they should be held accountable for their actions. The drugs their mothers use during their pregnancies harm innocent, unborn children, and we can’t ignore that.
What do you think? Should addiction during pregnancy be treated as a crime, or a disease?
Image via Flickr