I imagine that most people have heard about Tennessee’s new “Arrest Pregnant Addicts” rule. I also imagine that some of you think that this is an amazing idea. And if you do, I will never admit to you that I have any kind of problems. At all. Ever. Seriously, I don’t need your judgment I have my own. Thanks. The reason I hate this policy because it is reactionary and it will cause more harm than good.
Think about it. Some asshole goes on a shooting spree and immediately people start shouting about how we need to ban all guns…which immediately makes another set of people go out and buy even more guns just in case it happens. Which ends up completely defeating the purpose of the idea behind banning guns. Which itself was a completely stupid idea anyway.
Not to mention the fact that this kind of thinking polarizes people instead of encouraging them to work with each other to find a compromise. It’s either “Ban All The Things” or “Allow All The Things” there’s no middle and therefore no real solutions; only reactions.
Women continuing to use drugs even after they’ve found out they are pregnant are doing so for a reason. Find the reasons, we find the solutions. Start arresting people and you only get more women hiding pregnancies and giving birth in gas station bathrooms. Arresting women actually puts even more at risk babies at even greater risk. Don’t believe me, ask the Doctors who now have to deal with this.
Now, before I go into my next part, I need to make something very clear. I do not condone certain risky behaviors. And I certainly do NOT condone women using drugs while pregnant. However, I do think they need help more than blame and punishment.
Let’s take the case of Lacey Weld in Dandridge Tennessee. I lived in Dandridge for five years. The place is an absolute hole. They have a grocery store, a dollar store, a couple of gas stations, a few fast food joints, and that’s it. There is no place to work, nothing to really do, and it’s a food desert. So everyone there just sells drugs to each other. They cracked down on pills so now it’s meth. The entire place has a “fuck it” attitude because there is nothing there to give you any kind of hope for your future. Oh, and even better, it’s surrounded by even more towns exactly like this so going to the next town over isn’t a help because they are all in the same boat. There is literally NOTHING there.
What do you expect people living in a place with nothing to actually do with themselves?
Don’t get me wrong, addict mothers definitely deserve to have their children removed from their custody. But a plan should be in place that also gets them help and treatment. Unfortunately, getting clean means nothing if all that happens is they are still stuck where there is nothing.
The reaction is arresting women. But the solution is creating opportunities. Creating opportunities means fewer people turning to destructive escapist behaviors like drug abuse.
However, creating opportunities isn’t going to happen without a successfully educated population. Businesses and industries don’t come here because the people here can’t work their jobs. No one is going to put a technical industry in a place where no one has the opportunity to use technologies because the work will be beyond the capabilities of the population.
But do you know what would be perfect for an area like this? Legalizing marijuana. No seriously. A lot of the population there is already versed in basic pot growing anyway, so it’d be perfect. Allow a population that is already familiar with this kind of thing transfer their skills over to lucrative businesses. This is just one idea, but at least it’s a start towards finding an actual solution instead of a reaction.
Invest in broad educational opportunities beginning with the elementary level that can increase STEM opportunities. Use these to encourage girls and young women that they can expect more out of life than hoping to marry someone with a good job. Cause that’s a problem here too, women and girls are limited by the confining conservative attitudes towards them in these areas. Encourage them to get into the sciences by increasing their access to them beginning on the first educational tiers.
But this is a hard sell. Why? Because solutions take time to create results and everyone is looking for a quick fix when there isn’t one. Banning guns, ending social welfare, arresting women, all of these are reactions; not solutions. In the case of addict mothers, all this is going to do is give us more dumpster babies.