Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed emergency regulations last week banning the shackling of incarcerated pregnant women.
The regulations will “immediately prohibit the state corrections department from shackling pregnant inmates at the ankle and waist during their second or third trimesters, during labor and childbirth, and immediately postpartum,” according to RH Reality Check. They will expire after 90 days.
Deval also urged the state legislature to pass the Anti-Shackling Bill before the regulations expire. It would ban shackling and provide comprehensive health care for pregnant inmates, and it is currently moving through committees.
“Shackling is unsafe and inhumane, and it is shocking that this practice continues in 2014,” said Megan Amundson, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.”We applaud the Governor’s initiative to prohibit this barbaric practice and join him in urging Massachusetts lawmakers to send the Anti-Shackling Bill to his desk to be signed into law this session and ensure consistent basic medical standards to support healthy pregnancies and deliveries for all pregnant women in the Commonwealth.”
Shackling increases the risk of falling and injury prior to giving birth and the risk of blood clots post-partum. Restraints can interfere with medical professionals’ ability to care for patients during labor, especially in emergency situations.
Currently, only 18 states have laws banning shackling. Five states have introduced legislation to prohibit it so far this year.
Media Resources: RH Reality Check 1/24/14, 2/21/14; NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts 2/20/14; Open States 2/20/14