Great news in the state of Washington: a new state law bans the use of restraints on incarcerated pregnant women. No shackles can be used during labor, post-delivery recovery, or during medical trips or court visits in a prisoner’s third trimester. Sounds like common sense, right?
Unfortunately, Washington only joins 6 other states that have similar laws. Elsewhere, incarcerated pregnant women are allowed to be shackled and restrained while giving birth to their child, a truly disgusting example of how our prison system dehumanizes people.
One woman, as reported by the ACLU, felt like “an animal giving birth before my masters.”
Hopefully Washington’s law will influence other states to adopt similar bans. By treating incarcerated pregnant women as mothers first instead of prisoners, this law highlights what is too often forgotten in our society: incarcerated people are human beings too.
UPDATES: In December of 2018, the First Step Act was signed into law, banning the shackling of pregnant women in federal prisons.
As of 2019, over 20 states have some sort of law banning the use of restraints on pregnant women during childbirth in state prisons.