Access to medical care, the shackling of pregnant prisoners, and overincarceration of pregnant women are all issues of major concern. 

Whether an incarcerated woman decides to carry her pregnancy to term or have an abortion, she has a constitutionally protected right to obtain appropriate medical care. The ACLU works to secure this right in prisons and jails throughout the country.

Unfortunately, shackling pregnant women during active labor and childbirth is all too common in our nation’s prisons and jails. Through litigation and advocacy, the ACLU works to end this barbaric practice and protect the health of incarcerated women and their babies.

A pregnant woman suffering from drug addiction or other substance abuse and health conditions needs medical care, not incarceration. In recent years, we have seen numerous instances where states have detained and incarcerated a drug-dependent pregnant woman or have used the threat of jail time or removal of her children to force a pregnant woman into medical care against her will. Such punitive approaches to treating pregnant women are not only unlawful, but they also deter women from seeking needed medical care and social services.

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