“No baby deserves to start his or her life in withdrawal
from heroin and other opioids.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) spoke on the House floor Tuesday in support of legislation to help provide better care for newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome, exposure to heroin and opioids during pregnancy.
“No baby deserves to start his or her life in withdrawal from heroin and other opioids, but sadly, the rate of babies with NAS, again as you have heard, have skyrocketed nationally,” Rep. Jenkins said.
Rep. Jenkins is a cosponsor of H.R. 1462, the Protecting Our Infants Act, sponsored by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.). The bill would help advance the research needed to develop the absolute best care available for babies with NAS, building on best practices from doctors and nurses in West Virginia and across the country. The bill passed by voice vote Tuesday.
“Our nurses and doctors are tirelessly working to care for newborns with NAS, and having additional research and resources will only further their efforts in providing the best care possible,” he said.
Click here to watch Rep. Jenkins’ remarks.
The full text of the congressman’s speech is below.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Every day in hospitals across the Third Congressional District of West Virginia and the country, babies begin their lives going through drug withdrawal because they were exposed during pregnancy. As you have heard, it’s the diagnosis known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (or NAS).
“No baby deserves to start his or her life in withdrawal from heroin and other opioids, but sadly, the rate of babies with NAS, again as you have heard, have skyrocketed nationally. Doctors, nurses, and caregivers are providing innovative care for NAS newborns, but there are still gaps in research and our understanding of how best to care for our most vulnerable.
“The Protecting Our Infants Act makes significant strides in addressing this nationwide gap and developing these strategies, and I am proud to be a cosponsor this bill.
“West Virginia has been at the forefront of this epidemic, with NAS rates much higher than the national average. Our nurses and doctors are tirelessly working to care for newborns with NAS, and having additional resources and research will only further their efforts in providing the best care possible.
“I have met with caregivers throughout my district to discuss their approaches to treating NAS, and I know this legislation will help in their efforts to treat these babies.
“While we must continue to guarantee that newborns receive the absolute best care, we must also address the issue of addiction in pregnant and postnatal women. This legislation will help identify and develop treatment methods for expectant mothers with opioid addictions, leading to healthier outcomes for mother and baby alike.
“NAS is a nationwide crisis, one that impacts urban, rural and suburban areas. Nearly every district in America has been touched by heroin and opioid addiction, and we must address the impact this addiction has on the most vulnerable in society – our newborn babies.
“I commend Congresswoman Clark for her efforts on this important legislation, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill. I yield back.”