Maine Governor Paul R. LePage this week said the births of 927 babies born to mothers addicted to drugs last year in the state is a “troubling epidemic.” The babies represented more than 7 percent of all births in the state, The New York Times reports.
In his State of the State address, Governor LePage said the babies create “a lifelong challenge for our health care system, schools and social services.” He added, “It is unacceptable to me that a baby should be born affected by drugs.” He urged legislators to add four special drug prosecutors and four judges to sit in enhanced courts, and to add 14 agents to the state’s Drug Enforcement Agency. He did not mention a role for treatment, the article notes.
“We must hunt down dealers and get them off the streets,” Mr. LePage said. “We must protect our citizens from drug-related crimes and violence. We must save our babies from lifelong suffering.”
Last month, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said his state is suffering from a “full-blown heroin crisis.” In his State of the State Message, Governor Shumlin said he wants officials to respond to addiction as a chronic disease. He focused his entire speech on drug addiction and its consequences.
He called on the state to treat heroin addiction with treatment and support, instead of punishment and incarceration. “In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us,” he said. “The time has come for us to stop quietly averting our eyes from the growing heroin addiction in our front yards, while we fear and fight treatment facilities in our backyards.”
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