Bill Would Protect Health of Women and their Pregnancies

April 17, 2015

AUGUSTA, ME - Today, a broad coalition urged legislators to support LD 1013, “An Act to Prevent the Shackling of Pregnant Women.” The bill, sponsored by Sen. Anne Haskell (D-Portland), would ban the use of restraints on a pregnant prisoner or detainee, including during labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery, except in extraordinary circumstances.

“Maine is currently the only state in New England that allows the shackling of pregnant women,” said Sen. Anne Haskell (D-Portland). “With our female prisoner population quickly rising we will see even more of this inhumane treatment if we don’t act now.”

Shackling a pregnant woman can pose undue health risks for a woman and her pregnancy. The absence of physical restraints is essential so the woman can move around as needed, and so that medical staff can easily conduct any necessary emergency procedures. Following birth, it is critical for a woman to remain unshackled to prevent postpartum hemorrhage and to foster postpartum bonding between the mother and child, which is essential to the healthy development of the child.

“Shackling a woman during labor shows a deliberate indifference to her medical needs and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment,” said Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine. “Medical visits need to be conducted by medical professionals, not correctional officers, and there is broad consensus from the medical community that shackling a pregnant woman is dangerous to the health of the woman and her pregnancy.”

While the bill contains exceptions for flight risks or to protect the safety of the woman, the health care provider or the corrections staff, it is unlikely they will be needed. The vast majority of female prisoners in Maine are non-violent offenders who pose a low security risk – particularly during labor and postpartum recovery.

The bill has broad support from medical professionals, the Coalition for Maine Women, the Maine Alliance for Reproductive Freedom, and many faith leaders including the Christian Civic League, among others.

WHAT:

Hearing on LD 1013, the bill to ban shackling of pregnant prisoners or detainees in Maine.

WHEN:

Friday, April 17, at 9:00 a.m. ET

WHERE:

Maine State House, Room 436 (4th Floor), 210 State St.

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