Mandatory Drug Testing During PreJacklyn I. NashVincennes UniversityAbstract This paper is primarily used to describe the ethical dilemma of mandatory drug testing during/after pregnancy. There are several pros and a few cons to this topic. Both sides of this dilemma are listed in this paper. Several more pros than cons are listed simply due to the fact that it something that should be done. The drugs and their side effects on the baby and mom can be fatal. A selected few examples of some popular drugs that are found in positive screenings and their effects on mom and baby are listed.
This is an opinionated topic and that is what makes it such a big dilemma. This paper is used to list and describe both sides of the dilemma and to state my own opinion. Mandatory drug testing during and after pregnancy will also affect us nurses and our practice. This ethical dilemma is popular right now and is being looked at carefully from both sides to determine the best for the community, nurses, moms and their babies.
Why is mandatory drug testing during and/or after pregnancy an ethical dilemma? This becomes an ethical dilemma when it comes down to the consent, rights and privacy of the pregnant women. The purpose of this paper is to explore the pros and cons of drug testing during and after pregnancy in order to determine the ethics of the dilemma and to show how it affects the nursing practice. The opioid crisis in North America is higher than it has ever been. It has been estimated that approximately 10% of pregnancies and births are affected by illegal drug use. The exposure of the fetus to drugs puts the baby at risk for premature delivery, physical and cognitive developmental issues and the risk of death. With the mom using illicit drugs during pregnancy, this gives the fetus the risk and probability of being delivered addicted to the illicit drugs used. Addiction to these drugs gives the baby increased pain after birth because the baby has relied on them while in the placenta. This also puts the baby at increased risked for seizures and other physiological defects after birth. These symptoms are the baby having withdrawals. These are few of the several reasons of reasons why mandatory drug testing during and/or after pregnancy should be considered. There are several pros to this ethical dilemma and why it should be strongly considered in every state to do this testing. I am going to go over a few out of several. The common drugs that are more commonly found when a mother tests positive is marijuana, cocaine and heroin. I am going to explain some of the effects these three certain drugs have on the mom and baby. Marijuana crosses the placenta to your baby. Marijuana, like cigarette smoke, contains toxins that keep your baby from getting the proper supply of oxygen that he or she needs to grow. Smoking marijuana during pregnancy can increase the chance of miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth, developmental delays, and behavioral and learning problems (Using Illegal Drugs During Pregnancy, 2018). This statement from the article, Using Illegal Drugs During Pregnancy, shows all of the possible life threatening effects this drug could have on the baby. Similarly to marijuana, cocaine also crosses the placenta. Cocaine can actually make its way into the baby’s blood stream. The difference between cocaine being in the mothers blood stream and the baby’s blood stream is the amount of time it takes to be eliminated. It takes a much longer time for it to be eliminated from the baby’s bloodstream than it does the mother’s. Use of this drug during pregnancy also increases the risk for a miscarriage. Cocaine use in late pregnancy can result in placental abruption which also has additional adverse effects on mom and baby. Cocaine can also cause the baby to have a small head and a lower birth weight than the average newborn. Another drug found in positive drug screenings is heroin, a highly addictive drug. This drug also crosses the placenta and because it is so highly addictive the baby will be addicted to it when born because the baby has depended on it for so long. Using heroin during pregnancy increases the chance of premature birth, low birth weight, breathing difficulties, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), bleeding within the brain (intracranial hemorrhage), and infant death (Using Illegal Drugs During Pregnancy, 2018). These are just a few of the several drugs and their effects on the mom and baby if used during pregnancy. The obvious pro of this drug screening is the safety for the baby who is unable to make their own decisions. They are not capable of making life decisions and are forced to become addicted to the drugs and or alcohol used during pregnancy. Some symptoms that are related to withdrawal from drugs after birth are poor feeding, seizures, irritability, and vomiting. Another beneficial outcome for drug testing is safety for the mother. The mother is put under several of risks doing drugs while pregnant. The mothers also do not always confess to doing certain types of drugs or any at all that are prohibited during pregnancy. They are afraid of the consequences they may have to face. Therefore, they do not come forward with truth and honesty. This makes mandatory drug testing beneficial because they will not be able to lie or hide the truth. A benefit of drug testing is the probability of the mom continuing the drugs after birth if she previously tested positive for drugs. A mom who is under the influence, with the baby in her presence, is not in an appropriate state of mind to correctly care for her child and provide that child with the care it needs. The pros of mandatory drug testing definitely outweigh the cons. One con is a false-positive screen. Ingesting poppy seed before a drug screening has been scientifically proven to cause the screening to test positive for the opiate morphine. This is something that can be prevented. You can visibly see the poppy seeds and avoiding them during pregnancy will reduce the risk for a false-positive test. These positive tests can put a bad image on the mother and the care she can provide for her baby. The second con is the number of positive tests that will come back. We are more than likely going to see the number of positive results increase by an excessive amount. If not double. There is not enough places to put these babies and be sure that they get the care that they need. Mandatory drug testing during pregnancy will also prevent more women from attending prenatal care. They will be more scared of being caught. Not attending prenatal care will only hurt the baby and the mom more. By weighing the pros and cons of this ethical dilemma, my opinion should be clearly stated. I support the idea of mandatory drug testing while pregnant and after pregnancy. I believe this will help save the lives of both the mothers and the babies. If the mothers knew they would have mandatory drug testing during pregnancy, the ending result is hoped to be lower percentages of positive results. Knowing the possible consequences that will be given for positive results will hopefully stop these mothers from using the illicit drugs. The innocent lives of these babies do not deserve to be put through drug addiction, the withdrawals that come with it after birth and even possible death. This would affect my nursing practice because I would have to understand and not violate the rights and privacy of the patient. I will have to learn how to effectively and professionally show respect to my patient that either refuses a drug screening or fails. Both of those go against my beliefs and I will have to put aside my beliefs and respectfully provide exceptional care to my patient to do what is best for her and the baby.Works CitedMatters of Substance. (n.d.). Retrieved from L. (2016, March 01). As Substance Abuse Rises, Hospitals Drug Test Mothers, Newborns. Retrieved March 20, 2019, from H. R., Collier, A. C., & Wright, T. E. (2018, August 28). Screening Pregnant Women and Their Neonates for Illicit Drug Use: Consideration of the Integrated Technical, Medical, Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues. Retrieved from Illegal Drugs During Pregnancy. (2018, February 01). Retrieved March 19, 2019, from