Changes to mandated reporting law would help pregnant women

Regular prenatal care is critically important to ensure the best outcomes for pregnant women and their babies. For women with substance use disorders or opioid use disorders, seeking prenatal care is not so easy. 

Minnesota law requires doctors or social services providers to report women who use a controlled substance during pregnancy to Child Protective Services, even if they are seeking prenatal care and already voluntarily undergoing substance abuse treatment. This not only creates trust issues between women and their doctors, but it can discourage someone from getting regular prenatal care out of fear that they will lose their child or face criminal penalties. Disruptions in care also mean women may not be able to access the treatments and addiction services that are vitally important for women and their babies.

This week the Health and Human Services Committee heard a bill that would exempt providers from the mandatory reporting of women who use a controlled substance during pregnancy if they are receiving consistent prenatal care. The bill will still allow care providers to make reports if they believe a patient poses a risk to themselves or their children. It just wouldn’t make reports mandatory, giving providers much-needed time to develop a relationship with patients, earn their trust, and connect them to resources including addiction treatment services. 

Minnesota’s mandatory reporting laws are some of the most punitive in the country and do little to support pregnant women overcome their struggles with addiction. DFLers stand in support of this long-overdue bill that will help women get the support they need for their health and the health of their baby. (SF 1182)