The Florida House voted 114 to 1 last week in favor of the Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act, which would ban the shackling of women inmates during labor and immediately after they give birth. The bill states that “restraining a pregnant prisoner can increase health risks and the potential for physical harm to the woman and her pregnancy.” It also specifies that women should not be held in restraints during their third trimester, unless they pose a threat to security.

Representative Betty Reed, who sponsored the bill, stated, “It has taken two years of hard work and dedication on this bill to get it to this point. Women can now feel safer while giving birth no matter their circumstance. It is time we treat all pregnant women in society with greater respect and humility.”

The bill, which has already passed the state Senate, is the first piece of legislation of this type to pass in the South. It will now go to Governor Rick Scott (R).

National Partnership for Women and Families 3/12/12; The Florida Independent 3/8/12