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Care for Incarcerated Women Related to Pregnancy and Childbirth

Overview
Conservative Solutions

Overview

“No matter what crime [women] have committed they are still children of God, created in His image, and deserving of being treated with decency.” - Pat Nolan

Incarcerated pregnant women are the most vulnerable of our incarcerated population. Unfortunately, the justice system rarely considers the special needs of this population, creating health risks for both the mothers and their babies. The use of restraints can cause injuries to mothers and their babies, including: physical trauma due to falls, trauma during labor from bone separation and muscle tears, blocked circulation, and miscarriage. In addition to the use of restraints, many pregnant women do not receive the proper nutrition they need to give birth to a healthy child. Some women are even held in solitary confinement, which harms the health and well-being of the mother and fetus. Sometimes women are even shackled postpartum, endangering the mother’s health when she should be recovering from the incredible stress her body just endured. Even though these pregnant women have committed a crime, it is still important to find a balance between the realities of incarceration and the health and well-being of the mother and baby.

RECENT NEWS: Dignity For Incarcerated Women Advances at ALEC. American Conservative Union Scores Win With Approval of ALEC Model Bill.

Washington, D.C. – At the winter meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force adopted landmark model legislation on incarcerated women. The “Dignity for Incarcerated Women” model bill is intended to provide a template for every state legislature to improve policies for women behind bars. This key effort was sponsored by the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF), along with key ALEC members, Rep. Bernie Satrom (R-ND) and Rep. Kim Moser (R-KY). This is anACT regarding the care of state incarcerated pregnant women, family visitation rights, the access male correctional officers have in correctional facilities where a female inmate may be in a state of undress, access to feminine hygiene products in correctional facilities, and the education and training of employees of correctional facilities in which female inmates are housed. The full text can be found here.

Conservative Solutions

  • Prohibit the use of shackling of women while pregnant unless they present an  immediate, credible, and serious threat of hurting themselves, staff, or others; or there is a risk of escape that cannot be reasonably minimized through any method other than restraints.
  • Find alternatives to restrictive housing of pregnant female prisoners
  • Allow for a minimum postpartum recovery period of six weeks
  • Ensure that women during postpartum have the necessary mental health resources for postpartum depression and other mental illnesses they may develop
  • Ensure that women have access to adequate obstetric and gynecological care during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum
  • Ensure that women during the postpartum recovery period do not participate in any strenuous activity that could harm them in any way
  • Loosen restrictive qualifications for entry into the prison nursery program
  • Notify women whether they have been accepted into the program or not before giving birth
  • Expand the prison nursery program to more states
  • Write and call your local representative to inform them about the problem of care of incarcerated women related to pregnancy and childbirth pregnant women, and ask them to support any legislation that supports prison reform on this issue
We need a grassroots army to fix it.