General Question

sarapnsc's avatar

Mothers who give birth to drug addicted babies...what punishement should be given?

Asked by sarapnsc (1439points) September 10th, 2008

People do long prison sentences just from selling near certain miles of a school. What punishment if any should be give to a person who actually feeds their unborn child a drug? Harsh pusishment, unharsh punishment, just drug treatment? This is a very serious question to me, so your mature thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Do you think this type of person should be punished like a drug seller/buyer? Thank you all….

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28 Answers

Tantigirl's avatar

Thats a difficult one. I guess it could be said that people under the influence of drugs aren’t necessarily in their right mind, and aren’t really able to be rational. So can blame be placed on them when you take that into account? Should it be? The best way I can think of to stop it would be to prevent them from being able to become pregnant in the first place.

My knee jerk reaction is to throw the book at them. I know a wonderful woman who is a foster parent, and who ended up adopting two children from the same mother, and both children were born drug addicted. This wonderful woman had custody of these two little ones from a day after birth. They are close to my daughter’s age (14), one is older, one is younger. They both have affects from being born addicted. I think that the mothers do need to be held accountable, it is how it should be done that is the question.

allengreen's avatar

Treatment? What good could come from punishment/incarceration? I believe in treatment and therapy, but loss of privilage could be incorporated if the mother does not clean up her act. I think Mom and kid should be together and mom needs to prove she is worthy of being a parent, but I do not beleive in incarceration in this instance.

Harp's avatar

Would this be supposed to act as a deterrent? I don’t think that’s realistic where you’re dealing with people who’s judgment and impulse control are manifestly not functional.

nikipedia's avatar

Haven’t they suffered enough? Get them some treatment and get the kids in a good home.

JackAdams's avatar

Their kids should be taken away from them, and put up for adoption, immediately.

nayeight's avatar

I don’t know, anyone here ever see Losing Isaiah? Its a very, very good movie starring Halle Berry, Jessica Lange, and Samuel L. Jackson about a mother addicted to crack coccaine and “accidentally” throws her baby in the trash. The drug-addicted baby is found and then adopted by a doctor while the mother thinks her baby is dead. Eventually the mother gets her life back together and somehow finds out that her child is still alive and tries to get him back. The court gives him back but by this time he’s 3 and doesn’t know her. Yada, yada, yada….its a great movie and you should definitely see it. Besides, everyone loves watching Halle Berry portray a crackhead…(just kidding).

As far as this topic goes, I agree with nikipedia. I’m all for finding a home for the children and getting the mother into rehab asap so she can get herself together.

marissa's avatar

I won’t answer with my visceral reaction to such a thing. I will give you my logical reaction.
I don’t think anything legal can/should be done to the mother because the baby is addicted, however, I think legal action should be taken if the baby’s addiction is proof of illegal drug use on the mother’s part. I know it seems like I’m splitting hairs, but to take legal action on behalf of the baby, is to go down a very slippery slope. What about mothers who smoke or drink while pregnant? What about mothers that eat junk food while pregnant?
I think that the mother should be charged for illegal use of drugs and hopefully convicted. This may seem harsh, but I have my reasoning. If she is convicted and has lost her freedom, then the courts can mandate that she must be put in a rehab program and receive help for her addiction. If she isn’t convicted, she cannot be forced into rehab, because it is still her decision. Also, this will give the courts a say in the baby’s future.

nayeight's avatar

I think it’s funny how people think that women on drugs should be punished for having a baby while on drugs….but half the country is against abortion. For many people on drugs, birth control is the last thing on their mind. Why pay for birth control when I could buy crack? And pushing for abstinence is a dead end. Some women on drugs are prostitues, are raped, or are just out there having unprotected sex. I think under those circumstances, you can’t really punish a crackhead who was raped for getting pregnant. You can however give her the choice to abort the baby who she won’t be able to take care of in the first place. Sorry if it sounds heartless, but this is real life not Disney world where every baby gets to be born.

Bri_L's avatar

@ Marissa – ” take legal action on behalf of the baby, is to go down a very slippery slope.”

I agree, that is to some extent the basis for the whole abortion issue.

nayeight's avatar

Bri L – I love your avatar by the way…

JackAdams's avatar

Yeah. It’s a “cool aid,” to identifying him.

GAMBIT's avatar

In order to make this a crime the mother would have to knowingly and intentionally want to concieive a child that is an addict. Meaning the court would have to be able to prove that the mother in question knew and wanted her baby to be drug addicted before the act of conception. Not every addict’s baby is born addicted. A survey by NIDA (The National Institute on Drug Abuse) estimated in 1992 out of 4 million pregancies 5% of the women were drug users. It would be impossible for anyone to monitor that many people and to say because of your addiction you can not have a child. Maybe in a more Orwellian society a closer monitoring system coud be put in place but it would take away our basic freedom and our privacy

skfinkel's avatar

If you threaten drug addicted pregnant women with prison or even forced sterilization, they will avoid help, doctors, any kind of assistance for themselves or their children. They go underground. Rather, they need treatment and support—hopefully to get off drugs while pregnant at least, and maybe for longer. Good programs—one on one care—have proven to be effective for long lasting health for the baby and mother. Much of it is education and loving support. And of course, the more we can do for young girls, to help them stay off of drugs and not get pregnant, the better off these results will be. So, we need a two-level approach: one for the young girls to help them before they are onto drugs, and another for the women and girls we miss.

allengreen's avatar

Great Answer nayeight!

sal949's avatar

Punishment? I think a well supported detox programme would be a lot better!

Bri_L's avatar

@ thanks nayeight and JackAdams

scamp's avatar

There is no across the board answer to this question. If a child is born addicted to drugs, it should be removed from the mother immediately. In order for the child to be returned, the mother should go through a court ordered drug treatment and parenting program. If the Mother cooperates and shows that she will work to stay off drugs and be a good parent, she should then be able to have supervised visits with the child and gradually have the child returned to her. If she shows that she is not cooperative and will only be a detriment to the well being of the child, custody should be revoked, and she should be given the choice of jail time vs sterilization. Hopefully, she will choose sterilization.

During the period when treatment is given, she should be subject to random drug testing, and given some type of community service type job to pay for her treatment. I’m sick and tired of seeing my tax dollars being thrown to the crack whores who have multiple children, all victims of her indiscretions. I can understand skfinkel’s comment about them going underground, but isn’t that what is already happening?

I’m all for giving a hand up to those who really want it. But for those who show that they will continue to use drugs, and possibly give birth and a life time of misery to yet another child, I have no pity.

I watched a baby boy get taken away from a crack whore, and he is being raised by some much more decent people in his family. He will have a good life. But after voluntarily giving up her rights because the random drug testing was too inconvienient for her. A couple of years later, same crack whore had another child in another state, thinking she was out of the jurisdiction of the state that took the first child. The second child is now around 8 years old, and has been badly neglected. A very sad story indeed, and one I wish I knew nothing about.

boffin's avatar

Life…In front of a Firing Squad…...
Isn’t it “Child Endangerment”?

MissAnthrope's avatar

I agree very much with scamp’s answer.

sarapnsc's avatar

Just to update….........The mother got 7 years in prison….it was declared as child abuse…the mother will get drug treatment in the prisons programs they offer…. There are several women in the state I am in, who are doing prison time for this offense.
I researched it.

Now there is one recent case, where the child was stillborn from cocaine use. I guess she’ll be doing prison time too.

scamp's avatar

Do you know what happened to the baby of the first one?

sarapnsc's avatar

@scamp, the baby was placed in foster care….
If my memory can recall, the grandparents couldn’t/wouldn’t take on the burden of a child who will have special needs.
Majority of drug addicted babies have some type of particular special needs, especially the first few years.

SeventhSense's avatar

The mother is not a bad person but a sick woman and we should treat her and the child like any sick members of society. She should be offered treatment and the child should be given care. If she refuses treatment the child should be placed where he can get the love he needs.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

In our town there are a few hospitals who drug test the baby when it’s born and if drugs are found in the system, the baby is taken from the mother and placed with child protective services. I think that’s appropriate. If you can’t stop taking drugs long enough to keep your unborn baby safe and healthy you aren’t fit to raise that child for another 18 years.

Jewel's avatar

Immediate, irreversible sterilization. Adoption of all of her children and jail time for criminal assault on a child.

SeventhSense's avatar

That’s sounds like a great system and probably does wonders for motivating sobriety and protecting babies when it works. I imagine in some areas it would overwhelm due to the sheer amount of these mothers.

Coloma's avatar

One cannot ‘punish’ an unconscious person for deeds committed in an unconscious state. Meaning, either addicted or unaware.

The ‘punishment’ will come if the mother becomes drug free and mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy. Even then what can be done to make amends to the child, other than loving it as it is. Many people, drug addicted or not, act in unconscious ways.

How should the sober but the unconscious parent be punished for being verbally or physically abusive? Same rope, different ends.

Drug addiction is just one of many ways unconsciousness shows up.

There are plenty of sober parents that cause plenty of damage to their kids too.

It is not about punishment, it is about compassion for both and getting healthy and self aware, in other words, healing and education.

melodygirl's avatar

Idk what the answer is. I am currently a foster parent to a 5 month old little boy who have had this baby since he was 4 days old that tested postive for meth at birth. The mother also admitted to PCP, cocaine, pot, alcohol and tobacco use during her pregnancy. I also have his 3 yr old brother who in developmently delayed and had serious behavioral and emotional issues and although it can’t be proven at this point, I suspect drug use during her pregnancy with him as well. My husband is the one who slept on the couch with the baby on his chest for the 1st four months of his life. We have stayed at the hospial with him when he was sick, had to carry him around in a baby “snuggly” because he couldn’t stand being put down. He tremored, jerked, startled very easily for 4 months because of withdrawls and the damage that was done to his nervous system by drug use. He is still very “stiff” and has a hard time relaxing. Now, you asked what should happen to mothers who do drugs during pregnancy. Well, what punishment would they get if they gave drugs to ther child AFTER they were born? They have set there children up for a lifetime of problems that could have been prevented. So, although I get that drugs take over your life when your addicted. What should an innocent child pay that price? These kids still visit with their mother and she has rights that I don’t simply because she gave birth to them. But that’s a different topic. So, Idk what the punishment should be but it should be something!

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