Bill Inspired by Paragould Woman Fails in House Committee

FEBRUARY 15, 2005 - Posted at 2:07 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A bill to raise the penalties for pregnant women possessing illegal drugs to a felony level failed in the House Judiciary Committee today on a ten-to-ten vote.  Committee chairman John Paul Verkamp had to issue his "no" vote to ensure that Representative Hutchinson's bill failed.

Hutchinson said rehabilitation alone was not enough to solve a growing problem of drug abuse among pregnant women.  He called pregnant women the worst kind of pushers because they are injecting drugs into their fetuses' blood streams.  But several substance abuse treatment professionals argued against the bill saying that women are when pregnant they are most likely addicted and need help, and not more punishment.

The bill, known as "Garrett's Law," was inspired by a Paragould grandmother, who is on a quest to make something positive out of the drug-induced death of her infant grandson.

The bill would only stiffen penalties for what's already illegal.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)