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Child endangering bill moves forward

Rep. Ember Oakley
Rep. Ember Oakley

Despite strong opposition to the billthe Wyoming Senate Judiciary Committee has voted 3 to 2 to approve a measure that would make it a felony for pregnant women to use methamphetamine or some narcotics.

Riverton Rep. Ember Oakley tried to address a loophole in the law. She told the Senate Judiciary Committee that a woman cannot currently be successfully prosecuted for harming a fetus with meth use. But social workers and some medical providers fear that changing the law will keep women from getting prenatal care. Elizabeth Dole-Izzo with the Wyoming Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers said she’s concerned about what will happen if a mother is incarcerated.

“There is an illusion that is somehow a better outcome for that child. We know over time that strengthening the family is the best outcome for a child,”said Dole-Izzo.

She and others want treatment to be the focus. But Rock Springs Senator John Kolb said someone needs to look out for the child. The bill moves to the Senate floor for further debate.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.

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