Karen Bass and Mia Love Intro Bill to Address the Care of Pregnant Inmates
The number of incarcerated women has increased by approximately 700% since 1980 and despite widespread opposition, restraints and solitary confinement are still used during pregnancy and labor. In light of those statistics, Congresswomen Karen Bass (D-CA), Mia Love (R-UT), and Katherine Clarke (D-MA)have teamed up to introduce the Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act to help provide a national standard of care to address pregnancy-related needs of incarcerated women. If passed, the bipartisan legislation would prohibit of the use of restraints and restrictive housing on women who are pregnant, in labor, or in post-partum recovery; and how to use restraints safely when it is deemed necessary; establish minimum standards of healthcare and training for pregnant women, fetuses, and newborns in federal custody among other things. In addition to providing access to prenatal and post-delivery care and support to pregnant and postpartum inmates, training and technical assistance will also be provided to correctional staff to ensure compliance. “I’m very excited that both Democrats and Republicans are interested in criminal justice reform but what I found in their interest is that they forgot about women and how women have very specific needs,” Bass said. “The prison bureau will tell you it’s not a policy but it’s still a practice that occurs, and the only way to stop it is to ban it.” Congresswoman Love added, “When [I] learned about the treatment of pregnant inmates specifically, it became clear to her that something must be done. This was particularly true when [I] read stories of pregnant women who were shackled or restricted during childbirth and who failed to receive the care that they needed. As a mother, [I] felt strongly that policy changes were needed.” More here.