A Tennessee woman has been arrested after giving birth to a child who tested positive for methamphetamine.
The woman, 26-year-old Mallory Loyola, is the first to be charged for violating the state’s new law prohibiting expectant mothers from using drugs. Loyola faces assault charges for the impact her drug use has had on her newborn daughter.
The law has been criticized by women’s health organizations and groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who claim that it deters women who struggle with addiction from seeking the necessary help and treatment out of fear of arrest. According to Fox News, however, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has ensured state residents that those who seek out and complete treatment programs will not be charged. The charge is also a misdemeanor, although it can be punished by up to a year in jail if treatment programs are avoided.
Loyola was charged after admitting that she had smoked methamphetamine a few days before giving birth to her child. According to the Daily Mail, she was released on a $2,000 bail.
Law enforcement officials in Monroe County, where Loyola was arrested, hoped that the arrest would send a message to other expectant women.
“Anytime someone is addicted and they can’t get off for their own child, their own flesh and blood, it’s sad,” Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens said, according to to ABC, “Hopefully it will send a signal to other women who are pregnant and have a drug problem to seek help. That’s what we want them to do.”