P-I Live!


Thursday, September 12, 2013


Video Link: http://www.livestream.com/palitem/video?clipId=pla_629e1dec-553c-4df6-896b-349153e942bb


Q&A between Moderator Dale McConnaughay and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller

Transcribed by Catherine Cook 

[Beginning at approximately 54:00]


MR. ZOELLER: One of the things that’s the most shocking, and I, you know, the whole thing and the number of, you know, 718 deaths last year attributed to drug overdose, prescription drug overdoses, uh, but the rates of addiction, and the one that really bothers me the most is, uh, women who give birth to babies that are addicted –  


MR. MCCONNAUGHAY: That’s – that’s gonna play right into a question we got, ‘cause I told you we got a few questions that actually followed you here from Indianapolis –  


MR. ZOELLER: Yeah. I hope – I hope those questions are coming –  


MR. MCCONNAUGHAY:  So let’s knock them down as quickly as we can but, uh, please ask Mr. Zoeller that, uh, mandatory drug screens for Indiana men seeking to donate sperm and buy Viagra. After all, that drug use can lead to mutations in their sperm which can cause birth defects, uh, costing the state money and harming babies. Basically they’re saying, those who wanna get these things, should they be required to go through drug testing?


MR. ZOELLER: You know, that’s not something that our prescription drug abuse task force is focused on. It’s mostly the, uh, I mean the rates of, uh, babies born addicted to opiates is the biggest, I mean the problem literally screams out at us the same way the, the babies scream for six weeks. It can be un- I mean, that you can’t comfort ‘em enough because they’re addicted to drugs.


MR. MCCONNAUGHAY: Oh, that’s terrible. I got another one here, uh, there’s been a lot of press recently expressing your support for mandatory drug testing of all pregnant women –




MR. MCCONNAUGHAY: Similar question – I’m a believer in the Fourth Amendment and observing pregnancy itself is not a reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior. Can you explain why you consider this measure, which appears so brazenly to violate the Constitution, to be legal?


MR. ZOELLER: Well it is legal. I’ll tell you, everybody’s jumping to the conclusion that when you do a drug screen, you uh – uh, turn somebody in to the police. That’s not what we’re looking for. You’re already given a drug screen, so they’re drawing the blood anyway –




MR. ZOELLER: I’m asking that they do another screen to see if you are addicted to opiates or other things that would harm you as well as the baby. The doctor really ought to know that, and most – let’s say, a lot of what we hear is the – the women who are pregnant will lie about having a drug problem and they don’t know about it until the baby’s born addicted –




MR. ZOELLER: So this neonatal abstinence syndrome – we’re not trying to send somebody to court and to be prosecuted. Uh, we’re not trying to, uh, take away their benefits from Medicaid, ‘cause a lot of these women are Medicaid recipients –




MR. ZOELLER: This is all about the health of the mother, the health of the baby. And it’s not a new draw; it’s something we’re already taking the blood from the pregnant woman, we just want it screened for opiates.


MR. MCCONNAUGHAY: Now, you may have touched on this, but another question from another viewer –


MR. ZOELLER: All right.


MR. MCCONNAUGHAY:  Won’t mandatory urine screens for, uh, pregnant women deter substance – substance, uh, users from getting prenatal care?


MR. ZOELLER: Well, the fear of being turned in to the police, so we have to make sure that that’s not what we’re doing here. This is a doctor needs to know.




MR. ZOELLER: Now, urine tests are a little different because it’s an on/off. Are you or aren’t you? Those blood draws that are already being done – I mean, remember, this is not a new blood draw. A pregnant woman for well-baby/well-mother care is already gonna blood draw. You screen it for a few things dealing with – you know, the mother says she’s not taking any drugs, but you oughta know, because if she’s lying, you’re gonna end up with a baby born addicted and this neonatal abstinence syndrome – I challenge anybody who raises these questions, fearing the long arm of the law or something that they think we’re gonna get people arrested – I challenge them to go to the neonatal clinics and watch the babies who are addicted. If you took care of the mother early, you could eliminate a lot of her problems and the baby would have much fewer days in intensive care under this horrendous, uh, problem.


MR. MCCONNAUGHAY: Great point.  And we are down to our last minute. I want to thank you so much, Attorney General Greg Zoeller –


MR. ZOELLER: Sure. It’s always been –


MR. MCCONNAUGHAY: It’s always a delight to have you here.