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Pregnant people charged with drug crimes could get treatment earlier under new bill

The desks of representatives in the Indiana House. There are two sets of desktop flags – one with the state seal and one American flag.
Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News
Drug courts and forensic diversion programs are meant to address the underlying causes of crime and lower recidivism rates. HB 1418 allows pregnant people to be directed to these options during their initial hearing, rather than later in the process.

Lawmakers want to get pregnant people who have been charged with drug crimes into treatment earlier. The House passed a bill that would allow pregnant people charged with a drug crime to be referred to a forensic diversion program or drug court during their initial hearing.

Drug courts and forensic diversion programs are meant to address the underlying causes of crime and lower recidivism rates. HB 1418 allows pregnant people to be directed to these options during their initial hearing, rather than later in the process.

Rep. Lori Goss-Reaves (R-Marion), one of the authors of the bill, said the goal is to help pregnant people who are using substances have healthy children born substance-free.

“The opioid epidemic is claiming the lives of our pregnant women,” Goss-Reaves said. “When pregnant women use illegal substances, the babies they are carrying are at risk of being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.”

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Goss-Reaves said the bill will help get pregnant people into treatment as early as possible in the pregnancy.

The bill would give judges the authority to refer the person after consulting with the prosecuting attorney.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Abigail is our health reporter. Contact them at aruhman@wboi.org.

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Abigail Ruhman covers statewide health issues. Previously, they were a reporter for KBIA, the public radio station in Columbia, Missouri. Ruhman graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.