The prevalence of substance abuse during pregnancy is shocking, said Dr. Peter Lachiewicz, Western Ohio OB/GYN. Between 30 and 40 percent of pregnant Western Ohio OB/GYN patients are suspected of using drugs, tobacco and/or alcohol.
Tennessee is awaiting its governor’s signature on a bill (HB 1295) which recently passed through both sides of Tennessee’s Congress that will criminalize pregnant women for “assaultive offenses” if a child is born “addicted to or harmed by” the mother’s illegal drug use.
“A year ago, the Tennessee Senate, House and governor defeated the bill. So, it’s surprising that now this legislation was passed, despite 100 percent non-approval by physicians and the medical community,” Dr. Lachiewicz reflected. “I talked to a colleague of mine in Tennessee, these women will not seek prenatal care, and then just show up at the end. Or they’re going to tell a lot of lies. Or, like we see here [in Darke County], most drug testing we do through a urine – just like employers do random toxicology screens – just like here, they ‘can’t’ give a urine specimen.”
Dr. Lachiewicz estimated that 30-40 percent of the 250-350 births his practice performs each year are to patients who used some sort of drug during their pregnancy; and some women, he said, don’t even attempt to quit. Those who do wish to quit, do not have access to local resources, because there aren’t any, Lachiewicz noted.
“If you look at what’s out there – you don’t want to say everybody’s doing it, but if you have 30-40 percent of our pregnant moms using, that’s kind of concerning,” Dr. Lachiewicz commented.
“The community leaders in Greenville and Darke County talk about ‘What are we going to do? How do we help these women? etc.’ The resources are just not there. So these women, even if they want to stop – and we just had one who made the decision to go to Columbus on her own – these women really tend to fall through the cracks. And others have no desire to stop.”