Criminalization of Pregnant Women and Ensuring Birthing Rights

Healthy and Free Tennessee believes that every person should have access to the support, information and services to help them have a healthy pregnancy and to be treated with dignity throughout their pregnancy and in the birthing process. 

We oppose laws that criminalize pregnant women and we are committed to ensuring that women have the choice of how, where and with whom to give birth, being fully informed about her options and having as many options available to her as possible. 

Criminalizing Pregnant Women

The Pregnancy Criminalization Act was signed into law in 2014.  This harmful legislation has resulted in the arrest and incarceration of low-income women and women of color in Tennessee. We should make sure that women who use drugs while pregnant receive access to effective treatment options rather than being threatened with jail time.  This punitive law is part of a slew of policies that attack the rights, dignity and autonomy of pregnant women. 

During the 2015 legislative session, we defeated an attempt to expand the law.  We are working to get rid of this law and ensure access to effective treatment options.  Healthy and Free TN is committed to opposing laws that put politics and stigma ahead of public health and the needs of women and families. 


Birthing Rights and Justice

We are committed to a holistic model of wellness.  We are committed to improving birth outcomes for mothers and babies through promoting evidence-basedmother-friendly careadvocating for and educating about legal rights during pregnancy and child birth, and working to lower barriers of access to low tech, supportive care.  We urge lawmakers to address the fact that women of color have a higher rate of maternal mortality and to ensuring that every person has access to affordable prenatal and maternity care and paid family leave. 


To learn more about our work protecting the rights of pregnant women, follow HFTN on Facebook and Twitter (@HealthyFreeTN) and make sure that you sign up to receive our e-mails to stay updated.  Have an inspiring or even a discouraging story about your birth or pregnancy experiences here in Tennessee? Share your personal story with us at [email protected].