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Police: Woman used heroin two days before giving birth

Police arrested a Memphis mother who gave birth to a baby who tested positive for drugs. (Photo Source: Shelby County Sheriff's Office) Police arrested a Memphis mother who gave birth to a baby who tested positive for drugs. (Photo Source: Shelby County Sheriff's Office)

(WMC) - Police arrested a Memphis mother who gave birth to a baby who tested positive for drugs.

Jamillah Falls is behind bars as the first Memphis mother charged for giving birth to a child addicted to drugs under a new law criminalizing drug use and pregnancy. Police issued a warrant for the 30-year-old under the name Jamillah Washington last week.

She is charged with two counts of assault, bodily harm after Regional Medical Center doctors found marijuana and heroin in Falls and her baby girl Messiah Watkins system when she was born July 5.

Falls told a judge on Tuesday she wants to get into a drug rehab program. The mother surrendered to the Shelby County Fugitive Unit Monday night.

An affidavit says Falls has been pregnant five times, and Messiah is Falls' only surviving child.

"Addiction needs to be treated medically," Allison Glass with Healthy and Free Tennessee said.

The controversial new law is drawing mixed reaction.

"This is not about locking mothers up," Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said.

Health and Free Tennessee wants the law repealed. They say it could lead to women having abortions, lying to doctors, and avoiding health care.

"Having someone be in jail is far more expensive than a treatment facility program so we're also wasting tax dollars," Glass said.

The DA says the law gives mothers an opportunity to have a stronger foundation to not be addicted to illegal drugs.

"And, perhaps, prevent another baby from being born that's addicted to illegal drugs," Weirich said.

The affidavit says Falls is a repeat drug user and unfit to care for Messiah.

Messiah is under close watch in the neonatal intensive care unit for drug-related complications such as withdrawal and digestive problems.

The bill's author, Memphis Senator Reginald Tate, did not return WMC Action News 5 Kontji Anthony request for comment.

Falls will be assessed Wednesday and back in court Thursday. Her bond was set at $11,000.

Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.  

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