Drug Use During Pregnancy Laws in Indiana
Indiana’s current statute states that feticide is a crime. What is feticide? Feticide is the willful killing of a fetus. Drug use during pregnancy, according to Indiana laws, may be considered feticide. The law has been on the books since 1979 and was amended in 1992 to include the killing of any fetus at any stage of the pregnancy while in the commission of another crime like domestic violence.
Is substance abuse a crime during pregnancy?
No, however Indiana Code 35-42-1-5 states that “a person who knowingly or intentionally terminates a human pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus commits feticide, a Level 3 felony.”
Have women been prosecuted for drug abuse during pregnancy?
Yes, there have been cases where mother’s have been prosecuted for drug abuse during their pregnancy.
Is substance abuse during pregnancy considered child abuse?
Yes, substance abuse during pregnancy is considered child abuse in Indiana.
Is it grounds for civil commitment for substance abuse during pregnancy?
Yes, a woman can be committed for psychiatric evaluation.
Will health care workers have to report substance abuse during pregnancy?
No. Indiana law only requires healthcare providers to ask a pregnant woman about drug usage. This is to make sure that she gets the prenatal care that she needs.
Is a drug test required if drug use has been suspected during pregnancy? Will they take my baby if I test positive at birth? What happens if I fail a drug test while pregnant?
No. The only state that mandates a drug test for suspected drug use during pregnancy is North Dakota. If you fail a drug test while pregnant or if your baby tests positive at birth, your baby will not be automatically taken from you unless there are mitigating circumstances.
Are there newborn drug testing laws Indiana?
The are currently 50 newborn screening tests required by Indiana law but newborn drug testing is not included in that law.
Pregnancy and Substance Abuse
The effects of substance abuse during pregnancy is well documented. The Indiana Department of Health lists the possible effects of pregnancy and drug addiction for both mother and fetus.
Possible effects to the mother:
- Respiratory failure
- Maternal death
Possible effects to the fetus:
- Miscarriage and stillbirth
- Placental abnormalities
- Syndromes like Sudden Infant Death, Fetal Alcohol and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
- Low birth weight and small head circumference
- Heart ailments
- Developmental disorders
There’s no doubt that substance abuse contributes to poor prenatal care and possible negative outcomes for both mother and fetus. Be honest with your healthcare provider whether or not you have used drugs before or during your pregnancy. They are required to ask you about substance abuse. You may be asked for a urine screen. Your healthcare provider will not report positive substance abuse to the Department of Child Services or to law enforcement. You must consent to releasing that information. The only time your healthcare provider is mandated to release medical information without your consent is when they must adhere to a court order.
If you are addicted to opioids and are currently on methadone or buprenorphine treatment, the treatment is safe and recommended during pregnancy, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Consult with your healthcare provider before starting or stopping your prescription or supplementary over-the-counter medications. The Food and Drug Administration used to classify medications by category prior to 2015:
- Category A: Human studies have indicated no risk to a mother or a fetus in any trimester of pregnancy.
- Category B: Animal reproduction studies have indicated no risk to pregnancy but there are little or no adequate studies on human pregnancy.
- Category C: Animal reproduction studies have indicated adverse effects on a fetus but here are little or no adequate studies on human pregnancy. However if the potential benefits to the mother outweighs the potential risks, category C drugs may be considered during pregnancy.
- Category D: Human studies have indicated adverse affects on a fetus. However if the potential benefits to the mother outweighs the potential risks, category D drugs may be considered during pregnancy.
- Category X: Both human and animal reproduction studies indicate that the risks to both mother and fetus outweigh any potential benefits.
The FDA has streamlined its definitions since 2015. Today there are three reproductive categories considered: pregnancy, lactation and male/female reproduction in order to make the older system more meaningful.
Addiction can happen to anyone. It can take the form of prescription medications opioids or street drugs like marijuana and heroin. Pregnancy and substance abuse don’t mix and can harm both you and your fetus. In Indiana, you have choices that can help you manage or overcome substance abuse and give you and your fetus the best possible care.
Substance Use and Pregnancy
The Status of Pregnant Women and Fetuses in US Criminal Law
Infants Suffering From Drug Crisis
Substance Abuse and Pregnancy
What Other States Punish Drug Abuse in Pregnancy
What is Feticide: Indiana’s Law
Substance Use During Pregnancy
How States Handle Drug Use During Pregnancy
New FDA Pregnancy Categories