Journalism in the Public Interest

How States Handle Drug Use During Pregnancy

Across the country, hundreds of pregnant women and new mothers have been accused of child abuse or other crimes when they or their newborns tested positive for controlled substances. Laws on drug testing of infants and new mothers vary, but the stakes are always high. In many places, women lose their children or end up in behind bars, sometimes even if the drug was prescribed. Here is a survey of state laws.

Related: How some hospitals are drug testing new mothers without consent, How Alabama’s meth lab law is unfairly punishing pregnant women, Mothers: tell us about drug testing at your hospital.

State Substance abuse during pregnancy is a crime Women have been prosecuted for drug use during pregnancy Substance abuse during pregnancy is child abuse Substance abuse during pregnancy is grounds for civil commitment Health care workers must report drug abuse during pregnancy Testing is required if drug use during pregnancy is suspected What courts have said

Source: ProPublica research by Leticia Miranda and Christine Lee; Guttmacher Institute; National Advocates for Pregnant Women