NJ Supreme Court backs pregnant woman using methadone for addiction

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New Jersey’s Supreme Court has ruled that a woman should not be convicted of child abuse for taking methadone during her pregnancy.

Because the mother participated in a bona fide drug treatment program, New Jersey’s highest court determined that a finding of abuse or neglect cannot be sustained based solely on a newborn enduring methadone withdrawal.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal brief on behalf of the Morris County woman who was using methadone to treat her addiction to painkillers.

The state should not second-guess decisions made by a woman and her doctor, said Ed Barocas, legal director for the New Jersey ACLU.

“It would create a perverse disincentive for pregnant women to seek health care if they see that even appropriate health care prescribed by a doctor could result in a finding of abuse and neglect against them,” he said.

The justices sent the case back to the appeals court to determine whether there are other reasons that would justify the family court’s finding of abuse or neglect.

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