A new measure led by State Senator Cristina Castro to proactively address substance use disorders during pregnancy and safeguard maternal and infant health cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

“Compassion and support are crucial for upholding the health and wellbeing of all mothers and infants,” said Castro (D-Elgin). “By establishing this task force, we can take a proactive stance to address substance use disorders during pregnancy and find ways to holistically support families with newborns.”

The bill is a response to recommendations from the Illinois Maternal Mortality Review Committee, as substance use disorders are a leading cause of maternal mortality in the state. The Illinois Department of Public Health found that the leading cause of pregnancy-related death from 2018 to 2020 was substance use disorder, which comprised 32% of pregnancy-related deaths.

Currently, any parent of an infant born with prenatal substance exposure is punished and the child is considered an abused or neglected minor. Castro’s measure would create a new task force charged with developing a plan for helping infants exposed to substances during pregnancy. These plans, called family recovery plans, would include medical care, recovery support and connections to community services for both the child and the caregiver. 

“This bill is not just about addressing a leading cause of maternal mortality; it’s about ensuring that every family receives the medical care, support and resources needed for a healthier future,” said Castro. “By crafting family recovery plans, we are empowering families to navigate challenges with care and support.”

Senate Bill 3136 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday and heads to the full Senate for further consideration.