Under the best of circumstances, giving birth is not what you would consider a walk in the park. But 22 states make the already difficult and painful experience far more traumatic by adding leg irons and waist chains into the equation.
The American Medical Association calls this practice "barbaric" and "medically hazardous." Even though the majority of these women are non-violent offenders, incarcerated for crimes such as shoplifting or drugs, many states allow shackling pregnant women to be standard practice regardless of any real concern that the inmate might be dangerous or attempt an escape.
In fact, only seven states have laws explicitly banning the use of shackles on pregnant women during transportation, labor, delivery, and recovery in all but the most extreme cases.
Restricting a pregnant woman's ability to move can endanger both her health and the life of her newborn. Shackled women might find themselves unable to push properly or spread their legs sufficiently for delivery. Pregnant women are more likely to suffer a fall when shackled, harmful to their own health and potentially leading to miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Only seven states have adequate laws banning the shackling of pregnant and delivering women. That's 43 big problems. But you can help the solution by telling the offending states to get on it and pass anti-shackling laws today.
Photo credit: beketchai
Yet 43 states in the country lack laws banning the shackling of pregnant women during transportation, delivery, labor, and recovery.
Fewer than half of these states have a Department of Corrections anti-shackling policy, while those that do need to formalize those restrictions into state law. Those states that cannot even point to transparent DOC policies I am particularly ashamed of for their approval of a cruel, inhumane, degrading, and dangerous practice, and legislators must take immediate action to pass a bill rectifying this situation.
I applaud and want to voice my thanks to Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Washington for passing legislation that does ban the shackling of pregnant women in all but the most extreme circumstances of violence or flight risk. California, Illinois, and West Virginia have gone part of the way in the right direction, but still need to take action to pass laws at the level of their peers.
As one of you constituents, I want see my state on the right side of shackling policy.