Mallory Loyola was arrested Tuesday immediately after being discharged from the hospital. Loyola had given birth to a baby girl just several days prior on July 6th. When doctors tested Loyola and her baby girl, they found traces of methamphetamine — a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act — in both Loyola and her newborn. Doctors forwarded this information to the Monroe County Sheriffs Department, who began their own investigation.
According to the Daily Mail, Loyola admitted to using methamphetamine just days before giving birth.
Loyola is the first person to be charged under Tennessee’s new drug assault law. Officials recently passed this law to discourage pregnant women from using drugs during pregnancy — drugs that could threaten the health and well-being of a developing fetus. But critics of the Tennessee’s drug assault law believe it will do more harm that good by forcing drug-addicted women to avoid medical care during delivery.
The backlash from this case is being felt not only in Tennessee but through the entire country. Drug addiction is a serious problem that’s typically best treated with rehabilitation rather than punishment. Critics of the state’s new law claim lawmakers are taking a step in the wrong direction by locking drug-addicted mothers up behind bars rather than rehabilitating them.
The American Civil Liberties Union has even taken a stand against this new law, saying it violates constitutional concerns regarding equal treatment. The American Civil Liberties Union announced plans to challenge the law in the upcoming months.
Of course, proponents of Tennessee’s drug assault law claim it will save the lives of newborns while discouraging women from using drugs. By placing severe penalties on pregnant women whom use drugs during their pregnancy, lawmakers hope women will think twice before using drugs during those crucial 9 months.
The assault charge Loyola faces is considered a misdemeanor, punishable up to 1-year in jail.
“This dangerous law unconstitutionally singles out new mothers struggling with addiction for criminal assault charges,” Thomas Castelli, legal director of the ACLU Tennessee, said in a statement. “By focusing on punishing women rather than promoting healthy pregnancies, the state is only deterring women struggling with alcohol or drug dependency from seeking the pre-natal care they need.”
Following her arrest, Loyola was arrested on $2,000 bail. It’s unknown if she’s sought legal representation for this matter.