November 4, 2015

Sen. Whitehouse Supporting Bill to Improve Treatment for Pregnant Women and Moms with Substance Use Disorders

Bill would reauthorize treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women

Washington, DC – This week, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve treatment programs for pregnant women and mothers who have a substance use disorder. The Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act would reauthorize residential treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women supported by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. The bill would also authorize a pilot program for state substance abuse agencies that allows funds to be used for family-based services for pregnant and postpartum women in non-residential settings. Similar legislation was recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM).

“Too many Americans are struggling with addiction to opioids, and too few of them have the support they need to get and stay sober,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “This legislation will help some of the most vulnerable victims of addiction get the treatment they need to turn things around for both themselves and their families.  It’s an important step in our urgent effort to address the addiction epidemic, and I’m proud to cosponsor it.” ‎

“The heroin and prescription opioid addiction crisis does not discriminate, and pregnant women and new mothers who are struggling with addiction are facing especially difficult challenges,” said Senator Ayotte. “These women need support, and this legislation would reauthorize and strengthen important treatment and family-based services for pregnant women and new moms with substance use disorders so they’re able to get the help they need.”

“An alarming number of babies are being born addicted to drugs in West Virginia. Just this year there have been at least 79 confirmed cases in our state. New mothers suffering from drug addiction and women at risk of giving birth to drug-addicted babies need access to treatment that will help them create a better life for their children,” said Senator Capito. “This bipartisan legislation will play a critical role in preventing cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome and stemming West Virginia’s drug epidemic.”

“Drug abuse is claiming lives and tearing families apart in Minnesota and across the country, with far too many pregnant women and new mothers suffering from this devastating epidemic,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This bipartisan effort will help reverse this deadly trend by helping to give women and mothers the tools they need to get clean and start a new beginning for their families.” 

Ayotte, Capito and Whitehouse are also cosponsoring the Protecting Our Infants Act, which would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a strategy to address the alarming number of infants diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome after being exposed to opioids while in the womb. The bill passed the Senate last month. In addition, earlier this year, Whitehouse, Ayotte, Klobuchar, and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) reintroduced the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which would improve prevention and treatment efforts, ensure law enforcement has greater access to the necessary tools to fight drug abuse, and better support individuals in recovery.

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