Woman Forced to Give Birth While Shackled

Treatment of illegal immigrants in this country is not good by anyone’s standards, but this is really beyond the pale.  A Latina woman in Arizona, detained while nine months pregnant, is claiming that Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a law enforcement official known for his brutal tactics against illegal immigrants, forced her to give birth while chained to her bed.  From Latina.com:

“Once she reached the hospital, nurses repeatedly begged the Sheriff’s staff to allow them to unchain the mother, but they refused and Chacon was forced to give birth while still shackled to the bed. At one point, the nurse asked for them to release her so that she could be escorted to the bathroom for a urinalysis, but even that request was denied. But the worst came once Chacon gave birth to her baby girl.

Still chained to the bed, Arpaio’s police staff refused to allow Chacon to hold her newborn baby and then warned her that if no one came to pick up the child within 72 hours, she would be turned over into state custody.”

There are two issues at work here.  The first is the brutal treatment of illegal immigrants by Sheriff Arpaio, who has already been the subject of a civil rights investigation related to illegal racial profiling by his deputies.  His brutal tactics include running jails out of canvas tents, chain gangs and other inmate abuses, while violent crime in his county (which includes Phoenix and its surroundings) continues to spiral. In recent years, Arpaio has focused more intensely on controlling illegal immigrants, arresting over 600 Latinos a year, only half of whom are in the country illegally.  Arpaio’s racism caused the federal government to take away some of his power to enforce immigration law, but he is now citing made-up laws to support his claim that he can arrest illegal immigrants on the street anyway.  You know it’s bad when U.S. Customs and Immigration – an organization not known for its tolerance and acceptance of illegal immigrants – tells you that you’re abusing your power.  But Arpaio does not seem to care.

“You know what? They can take away anything they want. I’m still the elected sheriff,” said Arpaio to Glenn Beck in October. “I’m still going to enforce the state laws and I’m going to enforce the federal laws.”

This man is clearly appallingly out of line and should be removed from a position of power immediately.  But Chacon’s case raises another question, which has to do with the practice of shackling women during childbirth generally.  A 2006 New York Times article reported that chaining female prisoners during childbirth is still relatively common.  As of 2006, only two states, California and Illinois, had laws against it, and although New York Gov. David Paterson promised earlier this year to stop the practice in his state, legislation about it has yet to materialize.

In October, a federal appeals court ruled that “constitutional protections against shackling pregnant women during labor had been clearly established by decisions of the Supreme Court and the lower courts.”  So hopefully lawmakers who have proved to be more reasonable than Arpaio will stop this inhuman practice, which denies mothers the basic right to give birth in a safe and healthy manner, or even to see their children after birth.  But for now, in Arpaio’s district, it’s clear that neither immigrants nor women are safe from horrible abuses of power.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Nirvana Jaganath
Nirvana Jaganath5 years ago

Where these people already pregnant when they were imprisoned?

Linda Jarsky
Linda Jarsky5 years ago

"There is nothing humane about some humans - beware, it seems to be a growing fungus among us...."

Leigh Anne Burnette

This story makes me feel really, really bad. I know that there are some very violent females; that even during labor, could attack her caregivers BUT I think in this case, it was very obvious that this woman was going to do no harm. I think she was treated inhumanely.

Lizzi P.
Past Member 5 years ago

It amazes me that 8% of poll votes did not emphatically reject the idea! It amazes me even more, going by the comments, that it appears some of that 8% will be women.

A woman can never be more vulnerable than during childbirth, the only time in her life that she has absolutely no control over her body while nature takes it's course, and rarely does the woman wish anything but the best for the child they are bringing into the world.

Only a misogynist would see this as an opportunity to demoralize and dehumanize a woman by chaining her to the bed during and after the process and denying contact, let alone bonding time. What better way to show how worthless and insignificant you find a woman/women? Why else would anyone uphold this barbaric behavior?

It also smacks of gross incompetence. Seriously, is chaining a woman to the bed the only way you can ensure there's no point (not that she's likely to think so anyway) to her jumping up in the middle of (implied and totally ludicrous) or after (almost as ludicrous) childbirth to grab a medical instrument and stab someone, or whatever else it is she is supposed to be capable and willing to do with her baby just born? What a backhanded compliment to our strength!

Western society constantly condemns Islam for its supposed barbarity. People who live in glass houses...

What a sick, sad, sorry world it can be.

Sheila Stevens
Sheila S5 years ago

This article is dated 2009! I can't believe it is still legal 35 states and that only Florida has taken steps to end this practice. This is cruel and unreasonable punishment!

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

I thought the Middle Ages had already ended...

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago


Kelly Boyle
Kelly Boyle8 years ago

He is voted in by those that are ignorant and they will not listen to the outage. Many are afraid to speak out against him as he likes to file lawsuit against any that are critical against him. More needs to be done to spread the word about his crimes against humanity among many other daily abuses.

Izzy Simmons

it's terrible she wasn't allowed to hold the baby. . . science has proved that mother-baby contact straight away is better for the baby, and of course it would be absolutely devasting for the mother. . . going through all this pain and not being allowed to hold your baby? It's really touched me, it's terrible

Henriette M.

Dignity & Respect is a human right, No Exceptions!
Shame on you Sheriff Arpaio, your turn is coming & sooner then you can blink an eye. Use your brains if God gave you any in the first place. Clean your own slate before even thinking to punish any one else. Who the F... do you claim to be any way? Elected???
God will judge you & see how you like the treatment.
Remember; to only do to others what you can easily experience yourself, nothing less, nothing more.
Like grow up & get yourself a life & leave others alone or go get lost anywhere,,,,,, suit yourself.