Overdoses are a leading cause of death among pregnant and postpartum women in Oklahoma, yet many female addicts remain afraid to seek help believing child abuse laws will take away their children. An increasing number of experts are calling for changes to these laws so more addicts can get treatment.
Drug treatments during pregnancy
Even though drug treatments during pregnancy are safe for the mother and fetus, the shame of continuing to use drugs deters many from seeking help. This situation leaves women afraid that medical professionals will find drugs in their systems when they deliver and will report the findings to legal authorities, leading to drug charges.
A study published in May in the “Maternal and Child Health Journal” that followed 26 pregnant women in Massachusetts confirms this attitude. The women in the study felt anxious and stressed that authorities would report their drug status at delivery to Child Protective Services. Such attitudes led many pregnant women not to start drug addiction medication during pregnancy or wean off it, thereby endangering themselves and their unborn babies.
The calls for change are urgent as the rate of opioid-related diagnoses among women at the time of delivery increased by 131% from 2010 to 2017. Additionally, the leading cause of preventable postpartum death involves overdoses.
Drug use during pregnancy
Oklahoma is one of 25 states that classify drug use during pregnancy as child abuse. However, the state also gives pregnant women priority access to general programs while prohibiting discrimination. Getting into a drug treatment program while pregnant is a possible defense if you test positive for drugs in your system at the time of delivery.
If you have been charged with child abuse after delivery and possibly have had your baby taken away and placed in foster care, showing an attempt to treat drug abuse and remain clean may help you regain custody. In addition, getting a mental health expert to testify that your drug use is not an indicator of your fitness to parent your child may also help your situation.