Bill removes mandatory reporting to law enforcement on positive drug tests in newborns | News

(The Center Square) – The Legislature is set to send a bill to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker that removes the mandate that the Department of Children and Family Services report toxicology tests positive newborns to law enforcement.

Senate Bill 3136 passed the Illinois General Assembly and, opponents say, will deter drug users from getting clean because it removes punitive provisions that deprive biological mothers of their parental rights when toxicology testing of a newborn turns out to be positive.

State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, said the bill would actually deter addicts from seeking treatment. Opponents say allowing drug-addicted mothers, who give birth to babies who test positive for toxicology, to retain their parental rights is not only dangerous, it flies in the face of accountability.

“These are not tools meant to punish mom, but they are tools meant to serve the best interests of these children.” This (punitive provision) is intended to help mom and motivate her to get better. McClure said. “I’m sure everyone has heard of a child being born exposed to substances and horrible health problems occurring.”

After giving birth to a newborn with narcotics in her system, the biological mother can assert her fitness to become a parent at several hearings in order to regain her parental rights.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, introduced the bill because numerous studies have shown that women who suffer from drug addiction avoid care, fearing that clinicians will report them to authorities.

“This bill will incentivize pregnant women with substance use disorders to not only seek prenatal care, but also to seek and pursue recovery programs,” she said. “We do this by lifting two punitive policies that negatively affect drug-addicted families – use disorders.”

The measure amends state law to remove positive birth toxicology as a basis for finding unfitness for purposes of terminating parental rights and removes a provision of state law requiring the Department of Services Children and Families of Illinois immediately reports positive toxicology tests to law enforcement.

Castro said DCFS will continue to receive reports on babies who test positive for drugs at birth, but from there DCFS will determine the safety and well-being of the infant before sending the report to authorities. .

“This will have no impact on the court’s ability to act when a child is abused or neglected. If the child’s care or environment is unsafe, the court may find that the child is neglected based on the other provisions of the Juvenile Court Act,” Castro said.

Opponents have argued that a baby testing positive for drugs at birth is evidence that the child is being neglected and abused and that DCFS should be mandated to report this neglect and abuse to law enforcement.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said this bill does not concern pregnant women with a drug problem fearing seeking prenatal care because the only time authorities are alerted is is when the baby is born with narcotics in their system. .

“If that baby was born with narcotics in his system and he’s addicted, the system needs to be activated. The system should be alerted because we as a society, it’s our job to protect this child…end of story,” Rose said.


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly one in 12 newborns in the United States in 2020, or about 300,000 infants, were exposed to alcohol, opioids, marijuana or cocaine before they were born.

SB3136 has not yet been sent to the governor for action.