Infant tests positive for drugs, mother charged under Tennessee’s controversial drug law

Mallory Loyola, 26, first to be charged under new law
Mallory Loyola, 26, first to be charged under new law

Mallory Loyola, 26, has made history in the wrong way in the state of Tennessee. The new mom was the first to be charged under the state’s new law that specifically charges a mother with assault if an infant tests positive for drugs.

In Loyola’s case, her baby tested positive for meth. She was arrested by police while being discharged from the hospital. Under the law, the assault charge is a misdemeanor and can land the mother in jail for up to a year. The law does allow a pregnant mother to enter a treatment program before giving birth and completing it afterwards as a legal defense.

The new law is controversial with some critics saying it unfairly prosecutes drug addicted mothers. However, many have stated that the new law will help mothers and families. Mary Nelle Osborne, manager of recovery services at Peninsula Outpatient Centers has stated that the state needs to make an investment in treatment programs for the new law to be effective. The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is challenging the new law. Thomas Castelli, legal director of ACLU Tennessee issued a statement which said, “By focusing on punishing women rather than promoting healthy pregnancies, the state is only deterring women struggling with alcohol or drug dependency from seeking the prenatal care they need.” As for Loyola, her bond was set Thursday at $2,000 cash or property.

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