ACLU-TN Seeks to Challenge New Law Criminalizing Addicted Mothers

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
July 10, 2014 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Tennessee
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NASHVILLE – A Monroe County mother recently became the first woman to be arrested and charged with simple assault under Tennessee’s new law singling out mothers struggling with addiction for criminal prosecution. The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is currently seeking plaintiffs to challenge this law.

This law makes Tennessee the first state to authorize the filing of assault charges against a woman who decides to remain pregnant despite suffering from a substance abuse problem.

ACLU-TN had urged the governor to veto this law because it raises serious constitutional concerns regarding equal treatment under the law and jeopardizes the health and well-being of Tennesseans.

The following can be attributed to Thomas H. Castelli, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee:

“This dangerous law unconstitutionally singles out new mothers struggling with addiction for criminal assault charges. By focusing on punishing women rather than promoting healthy pregnancies, the state is only deterring women struggling with alcohol or drug dependency from seeking the pre-natal care they need. ACLU-TN stands ready to challenge this law and encourages any woman concerned about the impact this law will have on her to contact us.

People concerned about the impact this law will have on them or their families should contact ACLU-TN at

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