Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shackle-free births coming to New York

It is astounding that there has to be legislation for this, but it was reported yesterday that New York Gov. David Paterson promised to sign a bill "that will prohibit incarcerated pregnant women from being shackled while in labor." The bill has passed the N.Y. House and Senate, so it just needs his signature. (Another story about the bill says New York is one of the few states that allows this to happen.) Having not done so, I can't imagine giving birth ... let alone giving birth in prison while shackled. It's so inhumane.

Reminds me of the story about a pregnant woman in Florida who was ordered by a court to remain hospitalized against her will and to undergo any medical treatment the hospital staff "deemed necessary." What a scary court precedent to set, as if women can't decide for themselves what care is in their best interest. The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case, on behalf of the woman.

There was also the case of a judge sentencing an HIV-positive pregnant woman to prison for longer than necessary because he was trying to stop her baby from being born with HIV. (Didn't trust her to take her meds, I guess.)

Let's not forget about the mother who refused a Cesarean section and ultimately got her child permanently taken away from her.

Of course there's the bill some lawmakers in Ohio introduced legislation a while back that would basically force women to have babies if they became pregnant.

If that's not enough, how about some forced sterilization? It wasn't all that long ago that it happened. There's also an organization, Project Prevention, that will pay you cash to get sterilized or take long-term birth control -- if you're a substance abuser. Their goal? To stop drug addicts and alcoholics from giving birth. No care about helping the women and men with their addictions, just don't reproduce.

And to think some people (men and women) believe we've achieved gender equality. We can't have true equality until women are entrusted with something as basic as their own bodies and own medical care. As Diana Kasdan, an attorney for the ACLU, said,
"Women do not give up their right to determine the course of their own medical care when they become pregnant."


Ashley said...

What an incredible read. Thanks for bringing this to light. You're amazing and I learn so much from reading your blogs. Love you my Jamie!

kevinista said...

wow, thats gotta be so dehumanizing. so this is still allowed in other states?


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