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Jun 09

A new Colorado law Allows pregnant women to enter treatment for substance abuse without being prosecuted for using illegal drugs when their addiction is detected as part of a medical exam.

The law was sponsored by Rep. Ken Summers, R-Lakewood, and Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver

Here is Rep. Summers reasoning:

“This is about helping pregnant women and their unborn children who are seeking help, rather than punishing them.  This bipartisan bill is good for the women, their unborn children and society as a whole. ”

The new Colorado Law – SB 12- 1100 – makes the results of any information related to substance use obtained as part of a screening or test performed for the purpose of determining pregnancy or providing prenatal care inadmissible in any criminal proceeding.

Essentially – the law immunizes women from the use of test results that could be introduced against them in a criminal proceeding.  The law encourages honesty and cooperation on the part of pregnant women in support of their unborn children.

This is SYNOPSIS of the Law – a close reading of the Legislative Declaration clearly explains the intent and use of this new law SB 12-1100.

AN ACT CONCERNING THE ADMISSIBILITY IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS OF THE RESULTS OF A PRENATAL SCREENING FOR ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado:

[*1]  SECTION 1. Legislative declaration. (1) The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:

(a) Substance use during pregnancy is a widespread and concerning problem in the state of Colorado;

(b) Based on prevalence and population figures, among pregnant women 15 to 44 years of age, 4.4% reported current illicit drug use and 10 lisinopril generic.8% reported current alcohol use. In Colorado, an estimated 14.5% of pregnant women use alcohol during the third trimester of pregnancy. Across substances, use rates are highest among pregnant women 15 to 17 years of age, with approximately 15% reporting illicit substance use, followed closely by women 18 to 25 years of age.

(c) Prenatal substance exposure can have a devastating impact on a developing fetus;

(d) For many women, pregnancy can be a time of increased motivation to address their addictions out of concern for their unborn child;

(e) Relatively few pregnant women with substance use issues, however, participate in treatment programs, despite the availability of services to help them quit using drugs and alcohol, often because of fear of criminal prosecution; and

(f) Members of the Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee of the State Methamphetamine Task Force, in collaboration with the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice and the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, studied the issue and developed recommendations to address the problem.

(2) The general assembly further finds and declares that in order to encourage pregnant women with substance use issues to seek important prenatal care and appropriate treatment, legislation is necessary to provide protection from criminal prosecution for pregnant women who are identified during prenatal care as having used substances.

[*2]  SECTION 2. In Colorado Revised Statutes, add 13-25-136 as follows:

13-25-136. Criminal actions – prenatal drug and alcohol screening – admissibility of evidence. A COURT SHALL NOT ADMIT IN A CRIMINAL PROCEEDING INFORMATION RELATING TO SUBSTANCE USE NOT OTHERWISE REQUIRED TO BE REPORTED PURSUANT TO SECTION 19-3-304, C.R.S., OBTAINED AS PART OF A SCREENING OR TEST PERFORMED TO DETERMINE PREGNANCY OR TO PROVIDE PRENATAL CARE FOR A PREGNANT WOMAN.

THIS SECTION SHALL NOT BE INTERPRETED TO PROHIBIT PROSECUTION OF ANY CLAIM OR ACTION RELATED TO SUCH SUBSTANCE USE BASED ON EVIDENCE OBTAINED THROUGH METHODS OTHER THAN THE SCREENING OR TESTING DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION.

[*3]  SECTION 3. Safety clause. The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.

This law has been signed by the Governor. and was aapproved March 9, 2012

H. Michael’s Take:

This is an excellent and compassionate law aimed at encouraging the testing of women who suspect they may have injured their unborn children through the prenatal use of alcohol or drugs.

But the law does NOT go far enough.  The women targeted for help can STILL be prosecuted if the source of the incriminating information comes from other than a prenatal drug or alcohol test.  Therefore – unlike a similar immunity law passed in 2012 for overdosing of drugs and alcohol — this law does not confer complete immunity.  This provision should have been amended OUT of the bill.

This is the provision that should be amended out of the bill.

THIS SECTION SHALL NOT BE INTERPRETED TO PROHIBIT PROSECUTION OF ANY CLAIM OR ACTION RELATED TO SUCH SUBSTANCE USE BASED ON EVIDENCE OBTAINED THROUGH METHODS OTHER THAN THE SCREENING OR TESTING DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION.


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