CINCINNATI -- The heroin epidemic sweeping the nation has become a well-known problem, but a local sheriff is now fighting for a lesser-known victim in the recent drug outbreak: unborn babies.
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says the number of past-year heroin users in the country has nearly doubled from 373,000 in 2007 to 669,000 in 2012.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones has joined local State Representatives Margaret Conditt and Wes Retherford to enhance current legislation regarding criminal penalties for those who deal illegal narcotics to pregnant women.
The current law states that anyone who supplies illegal narcotics to minors will receive mandatory imprisonment but leaves out the protection of unborn children.
The group is fighting for new legislation that would require the same punishment for criminals dealing drugs to pregnant mothers.
“The number of babies born addicted to heroin and other illegal drugs has reached epidemic proportions,” said Sheriff Jones. “We need to make sure that dealers know they will do hard time, while leaving the door open for pregnant women to get help before it’s too late.”
Conditt and Retherford are sponsoring the legislation that is believed to be the first in the nation to target drug dealers who victimize unborn babies.