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Washington University School of Law




This Article covers a potential response to a Massachusetts state law which has been interpreted to require health care providers and birthing hospitals to report to state authorities any infant born to a person taking medication of opioid use disorder. While the statute mandates reports where a professional has "reasonable cause to believe that a child is suffering physical or emotional injury" as a result of substance dependence at birth, the Article highlights that many institutions report all infants born to persons with substance abuse disorders, regardless of risk of harm, for fear of penalty for failure to report. As a result, many individuals endure months or years long involvement with state authorities without warrant. Many patients avoid necessary pre- and perinatal care, addiction treatment, or both for fear of repercussions. Importantly, the Authors note that these challenges have been disproportionately impacting the Black community. As a potential solution, the Authors explore the possibility of an academic medical legal partnership which would support patients of a regional referral center and medical home for the treatment of substance use disorder in pregnancy. The Authors advocate for the use of such partnerships across different communities. Furthermore, they claim that academic medical legal partnerships which utilize an antiracist design can 1) shift the dialogue regarding social determinants of health and 2) fulfill ABA curriculum standards in law schools.

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