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For Immediate Release: April 5, 2011

Bill to Protect Drug Endangered Babies Withstands Filibuster

With the House passage of HB8, Representative Wes Long brings a bill to protect a fetus against a mother’s use of drugs one step closer to law. Since a law passed in 2006, it has been a felony to chemically expose or endanger a child to drugs. Marshall County has seen more than 30 of these cases since the enactment of that bill. However, another situation presents itself all too frequently and Long’s bill expands the definition of “child” to include an unborn child in utero at any stage of development.

“This bill has been up five different times in the past”, Long said, “so I am pleased to get it moving toward becoming law this early in the session. I believe it will help our District Attorneys to deal with these situations and will prompt expectant mothers to seek treatment for their drug addictions.”

A study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reveals that premature birth is almost twice as likely in cases of prenatal exposure to methamphetamine, and baby’s birth weights are also significantly lower. A premature baby born in Marshall County costs approximately $300,000.00.

Marshall County DA, Steve Marshall says, “I appreciate the action taken by the House of Representatives in support of this important bill.  With a similar vote in the Senate, law enforcement will be given an additional tool to help make newborn children safer and hold mothers’ accountable for illicit drug use.  I commend Representative Long for sponsoring this bill and leading the efforts of supporters during the debate.”

The bill passed the House on a vote of 71-28 after a lengthy filibuster on Thursday. Long says a public hearing is expected in the Senate next week.

For More Information Contact: (256) 582-0619

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