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West Virginia House bill outlaws using drugs during pregnancy


The Herald-Dispatch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed a bill that would make it a misdemeanor to use drugs while pregnant if the mother does not seek treatment.

Opponents to the legislation say the bill will have unintended consequences by dissuading mothers from seeking treatment out of fear.

House Bill 4623 allows health care practitioners to administer urine or blood drug screens to a person under their care for antenatal or postpartum care. If a test is positive for a nonprescribed controlled substance, the practitioner must report it to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources within five days.

DHHR then has five days to contact the mother to schedule an assessment. DHHR can refer the person to treatment, and if the treatment is refused, the person may become ineligible for public assistance.

The bill also requires health care practitioners report any babies born exposed to drugs to DHHR. The department may then refer the mother to appropriate services, but if they are refused, DHHR can report the mother to Child Protective Services for neglect and abuse.

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