House Committee Advances Bill Inspired by Paragould Woman

MARCH 3, 2005 - Posted at 1:13 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A House committee okayed a bill this morning known as Garrett's Law.  The legislation would hold mothers liable if their babies are born addicted to drugs.  Under the bill, doctors would be required to report the addiction.

The measure would expand the definition of neglect in the Arkansas Child Maltreatment Law to include causing a child to be born with an illegal substance in his or her system or with a health problem as a result of the pregnant mother's use of an illegal substance.

Critics warned the bill would make drug-using pregnant women avoid important pre-natal care.

The bill is named for Paragould grandmother Betty Stahl's quest to get something positive from the drug-induced death of her infant grandson.  It passed the House Judiciary Committee today and now goes to the full House.  It previously passed the Senate.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)