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Pregnant Meth Users in Arizona May Face Involuntary Commitment

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posted 01:06 PM EST, Fri February 29, 2008
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Pregnant Meth Users in Arizona May Face Involuntary Commitment © Photo: Mahalie

After passing through the State Judiciary Committee, a bill proposing to allow for the involuntary commitment and treatment of meth using pregnant women will face a vote on the Senate floor.

After passing through the Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee, a bill proposing to allow for the involuntary commitment of meth amphetamine using pregnant women will now move to full Senate voting.

Sponsored by Sen. Pamela Gorman, the bill calls for State Child Protective Service case-workers to intervene with enforced treatment when a pregnant woman who is using meth, or even believed to be using meth, will not seek treatment voluntarily.

Under the proposed law, case workers who believe a pregnant woman is endangering the health of the fetus may petition a judge to call for an enforced period of treatment.

Meth using women are at risk of involuntary commitment should they fail to seek out treatment, and even if they do seek out treatment, if they do not comply with all treatment requests or if that treatment is not working to protect the health of the unborn child.
Sen. Gorman explained that in general she was against the intrusion of government into the private lives of its citizenry, but said, "I do think that the state has some very specific roles, and one of them is to protect people from harm from other people."

She further explained that the bill was a necessary measure given the extraordinarily addictive nature of meth, saying "I would propose that a child can't wait for a year for backsliding off good intentions to be released from being forced-fed methamphetamines by the mother."

The committee passed the bill, 4-3; with the three negative votes coming from law-makers concerned that calling child abuse against the fetus a crime, opened the door to eliminating abortion choice in the state.

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