On June 15 2021, Pregnancy Justice provided comments to the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities and Chair Senator Adam Gomez in strong support of bill H.221. This bill will reduce unnecessary reporting and counterproductive family separation, and thereby benefit maternal, fetal, and child health. By removing mandated reporting for babies with “physical dependence upon an addictive drug at birth,” this bill will disrupt the unsupported assumption that a child faces long-term harm because of prenatal substance exposure to opioids, including the medically recommended treatment for opioid dependency, such as Methadone and Buprenorphine. This bill will also disrupt unsupported assumptions about the parenting ability of people who use any amount of certain drugs or medications. The proposed statute meets the requirements of the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), and will thereby facilitate continued federal funds to the Commonwealth while avoiding the harms present in the current system.
H.211 reflects the recommendations of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Perinatal Association, and many others and would implement the policy solutions suggested by multiple national advocacy groups in this field.34 It would severely curtail the traumatic, unnecessary, and harmful practices that separate families and break community bonds, eliminate the harmful requirement that healthcare providers report a person to DCF when they give birth, decrease stigmatization of pregnant people with substance use disorders, and allow families nurture a healthy pregnancy and bond with their infant, rather than face state intervention. H.221 would end these harmful policies and bring Massachusetts in line with other New England states. It would benefit all Massachusetts residents and serve as a model for treatment and reporting best-practices nationwide, to benefit pregnant people, children, and families. We urge you to pass this important bill.
See the full testimony here