Success! North Carolina Will Stop Shackling Inmates While Giving Birth

No pregnant woman envisions giving birth while chained to her hospital bed, yet thatís precisely the kind of indignity that inmates in America suffer with frightening regularity. Fortunately, it at least wonít be commonplace in North Carolina anymore. Effective Monday, NCís Prisons Director Kenneth Lassiter changed official policy to allow female prisoners to go through labor without the customary shackles.

If the 40,000+ signatures on this petition are any indication, this news is welcome to the Care2 community who found this practice disgusting. Although more than half the states in the nation still donít have laws against shackling women during labor, itís certainly a big victory to add another state to this growing list.

Shackling isnít just indecent, itís unnecessary. Experts canít name†one example of an inmate trying to escape her hospital bed during labor or soon after giving birth. Suffice it to say, delivering a baby is an exhausting process that leaves a woman in no condition to make a run for it. And what woman would try to bolt right before she pops out a baby?

There are also health concerns. Being shackled makes labor more painful, particularly since the women are unable to reposition their body. Hemorrhaging is more likely when women are strapped in, and if an emergency surgery is necessary, having to take off the restraints just delays the procedure.

Considering that women in prison are already more likely to have high-risk pregnancies due to addiction issues, an innutritious prison diet and inadequate prenatal care, adding these additional risk factors is downright irresponsible.

If that werenít enough reason, according to The Guardian, shackling a woman as she gives birth meets the United Nationsís definition of torture. The American Medical Association called shackling in these circumstances a ďbarbaric practice that needlessly inflicts excruciating pain and humiliation.Ē If even doctors and nurses donít want this extra ďsecurity,Ē why continue it?

NC jails will still be sensible about their handling of these situations. The women will remain handcuffed while being transported to the hospital and/or delivery room, for example. Prisoners will also have to wear wrist restraints until the point that labor actually begins.

Furthermore, although full restraints will no longer be common practice, guards will have the discretion to employ them on a case-by-case basis. If, for example, the pregnant inmate is considered a serious flight risk or has violent/self-harming tendencies, then she may not be granted the courtesy of giving birth unshackled.

Again, points to North Carolina for taking this step. These pregnant women may be incarcerated, but they donít deserve to be dehumanized in this way.

Take Action

There are about 12,000 pregnant inmates in American prisons each year, so there are a lot more women who could use similar relief for a smoother, kinder labor process. Letís keep adding†signatures to†the Care2 petition Make Shackling a Pregnant Woman During Birth Illegal! and hope that the U.S. Congress will finally establish rules on a federal level to ensure women arenít literally chained up while having a baby.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

87 comments

Marie W
Marie W8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson4 months ago

Thank you!

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DAVID fleming
Dave f5 months ago

Great news

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Roberto MARINI
Roberto MARINI5 months ago

good news thanks

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One Heart i
One Heart inc5 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Victoria P
Victoria P5 months ago

Thank-you!

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One Heart i
One Heart inc5 months ago

Thanks!!

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Leo C
Leo C5 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Filomena C
Filomena C5 months ago

Good news!

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Filomena C
Filomena C5 months ago

Thanks!

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