Drug-addicted pregnant women could seek addiction treatment without the fear of prosecution or having their child taken away under a proposed bill in the Legislature.
In addition to creating a "safe harbor," House Bill 309 would create a grant program for health departments to treat prenatal addictions. Representative Kimberly Dudik from Missoula, who’s sponsoring the bill, says the hope is fewer babies are born addicted.
"How do we take care of children so that when they are born they aren’t addicted and don’t go through withdrawal and they don’t have those lifelong consequences?" she said.
Beth Brenneman with Disability Rights Montana says the bill needs to be amended so the treatments are based off individualized plans and straying from that plan won’t cause more penalties.
"Substance abuse treatment doesn’t necessarily take the first time, and there should not be those sorts of consequences if someone is genuinely trying to work the plan," she said.
The House Judiciary Committee did not take immediate action on the bill when it was heard Monday.
Tim Pierce is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Greater Montana Foundation and the Montana Newspaper Association.