Key issues • Wyoming

Lawmakers reject Republican bill to criminalize drug use while pregnant

The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee will not sponsor legislation to make some kinds of drug use while pregnant a felony. The bill was modeled after failed legislation from the 2022 session that classifies methamphetamine or certain narcotic drug use by a pregnant woman as child endangerment. The original bill was intended to ensure both the safety of the parent and the fetus, according to committee member Rep. Ember Oakley (R-Riverton), who sponsored the bill last session. However, most of those who spoke at Monday’s committee meeting opposed the bill, arguing that such a punitive approach will only discourage prenatal care. “Criminalizing these moms has been shown to not make babies safer, but rather it harms babies,” Dr. Louisa Mook with Indian Health Services told lawmakers. “The research backing this up is so strong that every medical society with expertise in maternal child health explicitly recommends against any policy that criminalizes moms for substance use.”

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