Tennessee Fetal Assault Law (SB 1391)
This law was last updated on Dec 6, 2018
SB 1391 amends Tennessee’s fetal homicide law (Tenn. Code. Ann. §§ 39-13-107 & 39-13-214) to allow a woman to be prosecuted for the illegal use of a narcotic while pregnant, if her child is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug and the addiction or harm is a result of her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant.
This bill allows women to be charged with aggravated assault, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, if they have a pregnancy complication after using illegal drugs.
This bill makes it an affirmative defense that the woman actively enrolled in a long term addiction recovery program before the child was born, remained in the programs after delivery, and successfully completed the program, regardless of whether the child is born addicted to, dependent upon, or harmed by the narcotic drug.
Medical experts are opposed to criminalizing pregnancy outcomes resulting from drug use, because it can discourage women who use drugs from seeking prenatal care, or even encourage them to abort a wanted pregnancy rather than risk prosecution. Even some anti-choice groups are opposed to the bill because it could encourage more abortions. (Source.)
Gov. Haslam signed this bill into law on April 29, 2014. The law expires on July 1, 2016.
Companion bill to HB 1295.