Home Social Justice “Maidens Law” could help drug-addicted pregnant women

“Maidens Law” could help drug-addicted pregnant women

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The Ohio House passed House Bill 325 on Feb. 23. Also known as “Maiden’s Law,” the bill would require certain health care professionals to offer drug treatment to mothers with drug addictions.

This bill, which was originally introduced in September by Rep. Doug Green, R-Mt. Orab, and Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, also states that a child services agency cannot file a complaint and take a child away from the mother if she has used a controlled substance while pregnant if she abides by three rules.

The mother must enroll in a drug treatment program by the 20th week of pregnancy, have completed or be in the process of completing the program and have maintained regular appointments and prenatal care.

Green said in a press release that the goal of the bill is to keep mothers and their children together, strengthening family units and moving toward a “system of encouragement.”

“By encouraging addiction treatment we heal a mother, we heal a family, we help restore communities, we save government money,” Green said. “By keeping families together we strengthen family units, we create conditions for better achievement in school, we keep our economy moving forward. It is my hope that more expectant mothers come forward and seek help.”

Co-sponsor Rep. Marlene Anielski, R-Walton Hills, believes that this bill is another step in the right direction to fight the drug epidemic.  

“It is absolutely vital that expectant mothers that are struggling with heroin or opiate abuse get the proper forms of treatment to ensure the safety and well-being of themselves and the unborn child,” Anielski said. “Our state is taking another step in the right direction to combat the drug epidemic that has plagued our state for far too long.”

The National Advocates for Pregnant Women, an organization that works toward securing human and civil rights, does not support HB 325. On Nov. 2, 2015, members of the organization delivered testimony against the bill.

The testimony states, “We must oppose this bill; in our experience, laws like this one, however well intentioned, often lay the groundwork for more punitive policies.

“In summary, we ask that the members of this committee vote against House Bill No. 325 and instead support a healthcare-oriented approach to addressing substance use during pregnancy that increases funding and access to treatment.”

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services cannot comment on pending legislation. However, Eric Wandersleben, director of media relations & outreach of Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, shared insight on a support project for maternal opiate support.

“Ohio’s Maternal Opiate Medical Support (MOMS) project is spearheaded by the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation in partnership with Ohio Medicaid and OhioMHAS,” Wandersleben said. “We have four pilot programs, including one in Athens. The others are in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. The Athens project is a partnership between O’Bleness and Health Recovery Services.”

Wandersleben also said the department’s goal is to reduce NICU stays by 30 percent, and that the project will help determine best practices.

“The project aims to give babies the best start possible, by connecting mothers to cost-effective treatment (including medication-assisted treatment in addition to traditional counseling), shorten costly NICU stays for newborns who are born addicted to opiates and strengthen bonds between mom and baby,” Wandersleben said.

HB 325 was introduced in the Senate on Feb. 24 and is awaiting consideration.

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