Knoxville mother wants fetal assault law to expire

An East Tennessee woman is trying to convince lawmakers in Nashville to do away with a law that punishes pregnant women who take opioids.

(WBIR - Nashville) An East Tennessee woman is trying to convince lawmakers in Nashville to do away with a law that punishes pregnant women who take opioids.

Brittany Hudson was one of the first women charged under Tennessee's fetal assault law. Her baby was born drug-dependent and went through withdrawal. 

Hudson has now been clean for 13 months. 

She believes those mothers need help and says putting them behind bars isn't treatment. 

"I feel like they (lawmakers) had good intentions but it's not working the way they thought it would," Hudson said.

She attended a House Criminal Justice subcommittee meeting Tuesday that took up the issue, but action was delayed for another week. The law is set to expire on July 1 of this year.

Hudson also spent time personally meeting with lawmakers about the issue.

RELATED: Mother of drug-dependent baby tells her story

Hudson now has joint custody of her 16-month-old daughter.  She hopes sharing her story will convince lawmakers to do away with the law.

“This is a disease, you have to treat it like a disease," she said. "They don’t need bars, they need healthcare, these girls need help be proactive rather than reactive."

Almost 1,000 babies were born drug-dependent in Tennessee in 2015. 

"It's a health issue and not  a criminal justice issue," said Karen Pershing, from the Metro Drug Coalition in Knoxville. "You’re punishing someone for a disease and that sends the wrong message."


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