Doctors believed that she had had an illegal abortion, so first, a man from the prosecutor’s office had to arrive and ask her about her sexual history. Then, after she was treated but still groggy from the anesthesia, another investigator showed up and took her statement.
The investigation is still open two months later. Prosecutors are seeking medical records to determine whether they will charge the young woman, who asked that her name not be used, as well as the person they suspect helped her. . . .
December 11, 2012
Dorothy Roberts on Punishment of Black Mothers through Prison and Foster Care Systems
Dorothy E. Roberts (University of Pennsylvania Law School) has posted Prison, Foster Care, and the Systemic Punishment of Black Mothers on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This article is part of a UCLA Law Review symposium, “Overpoliced and Underprotected: Women, Race, and Criminalization.” It analyzes how the U.S. prison and foster care systems work together to punish black mothers in a way that helps to preserve race, gender, and class inequalities in a neoliberal age. The intersection of these systems is only one example of many forms of overpolicing that overlap and converge in the lives of poor women of color. I examine the statistical overlap between the prison and foster care populations, the simultaneous explosion of both systems in recent decades, the injuries that each system inflicts on black communities, and the way in which their intersection in the lives of black mothers helps to make social inequities seem natural. I hope to elucidate how state mechanisms of surveillance and punishment function jointly to penalize the most marginalized women in our society while blaming them for their own disadvantaged positions.
November 20, 2012
Federal Court Ruling Expected on Alabama Policy Isolating Inmates with H.I.V.
The New York Times: Ruling Soon on Isolation of Inmates With H.I.V., by Robbie Brown:
ATLANTA — In his first week in prison in Alabama, Albert Knox, a former pimp convicted of cocaine possession, tested positive for H.I.V.
Afterward, he says, guards called out “dead man walking” as he passed through the halls. He was banned from eating in the cafeteria, working around food or visiting with classmates in his substance-abuse program. . . .
September 18, 2012
British Woman Sentenced to 8 Years For Self-Induced Abortion at 39 Weeks
A woman who aborted her own baby in the final phase of her pregnancy has been jailed for eight years.
Sarah Louise Catt, 35, of Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire, took a drug when she was full term, 39 weeks pregnant, to cause an early delivery. . . .
July 13, 2012
Woman Prosecuted for Suicide Attempt While Pregnant Rejects Plea Deal
The Associated Press reports that Bei Bei Shuai, the Chinese immigrant who was prosecuted in the U.S. for trying to commit suicide while pregnant, has rejected a plea deal pursuant to which prosecutors would have dropped the murder charge. The AP story is available here.
Read more about the case via National Advocates for Pregnant Women here.
July 11, 2012
Rape Survivor Sues FL County Jail for Refusal To Provide Emergency Contraception
ThinkProgress: Florida Rape Victim Sues County Jail After Being Denied Emergency Contraception, by Annie-Rose Strasser:
A Florida rape victim is suing her county jail and its medical contractor after one employee allegedly refused to give her emergency contraception, citing religious reasons.
After the woman — identified as R.W. — was raped, she went to the jail to identify her assailant. While there, the victim was placed under arrest for an outstanding warrant. It was during this arrest that the incident occurred. . . .
May 22, 2012
Bei Bei Shuai Released from Jail; Still Faces Trial for Baby's Death Following Her Suicide Attempt While Pregnant
WISHTV: Bei Bei Shuai 'happy' for release from jail, by AJ Colley:
The woman accused of killing her baby by ingesting rat poison while pregnant left the Marion County Jail on Tuesday with a smile.
Bei Bei Shuai is facing murder and feticide charges in connection with the incident. She gave birth to the baby, but the child later died. . . .
May 14, 2012
Advocating for Humane Treatment for Birthing, Incarcerated Women
AlterNet: Birthing Behind Bars: Fighting for Reproductive Justice for Women in Prison, by Tina Reynolds & Victoria Law:
"I never thought of advocating outside of prison. I just wanted to have some semblance of a normal life once I was released," stated Tina Reynolds, a mother and formerly incarcerated woman. Then she gave birth to her son while in prison for a parole violation:
"When I went into labor, my water broke. The van came to pick me up, I was shackled. Once I was in the van, I was handcuffed. I was taken to the hospital. The handcuffs were taken off, but the shackles weren’t. I walked to the wheelchair that they brought over to me and I sat in the wheelchair with shackles on me. They re-handcuffed me once I was in the wheelchair and took me up to the floor where women had their children.
January 25, 2012
Conservative Spanish Government Plans to Tighten Abortion Law
MADRID — Spain's conservative government plans to tighten the country's abortion law to oblige girls aged 16 and 17 seeking the procedure to have their parents' consent, its justice minister said Wednesday.
Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said he was drawing up a bill to change the former Socialist government's 2010 law which fully legalised abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. . . .
July 07, 2011
Oregon Inmate Seeking Abortion Awaits Judge’s Approval
KATU News: Inmate must be stable before judge decides abortion request, by Patrick Preston:
MCMINNVILLE, Ore. - A pregnant Portland woman jailed in Yamhill County who requested to be temporarily let out of jail to get an abortion is a step closer to getting the procedure.
But on Wednesday, Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge John Collins ordered that Bridget Burkholder, 23, be stabilized at an intensive care facility before he decides whether she can get the abortion.
Burkholder is being held in the Yamhill County Jail while awaiting trial for attempted arson, criminal mischief and three lesser charges. Her bail was set at $65,000, requiring a $6,500 payment for release.
She will now be evaluated by mental health professionals to determine if she’s competent to make the decision to have the abortion. . . .
June 28, 2011
U.S. Women Increasingly Prosecuted for Stillbirths
guardian.co.uk: Outcry in America as pregnant women who lose babies face murder charges, by Ed Pilkington:
Women's rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion
Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.
Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals. . . .
H/T: Linda Hutjens
May 02, 2011
Federal Judge Rules Shackling Pregnant Woman During Labor and Birth Violated her Rights
The Tennessean: Shackled mom wins case, by Chris Echegaray:
A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Nashville mother who triggered a national outcry after she was shackled during labor and after giving birth while in custody of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.
U.S District Court Judge William Haynes Jr. will set a hearing for damages against Metro government and the sheriff’s office in the Juana Villegas case, which grew out of a July 3, 2008, traffic stop in Berry Hill. . . .
April 23, 2011
Feticide Bills Used to Prosecute Women Who Induce Miscarriage
The Nation: Policing Pregnancy, by Michelle Goldberg:
Utah prosecutors and conservative politicians are determined to lock up the young woman known in court filings as J.M.S. for the crime of trying to end her pregnancy. Her grim journey through the legal system began in 2009, when she was 17 and pregnant by a convicted felon named Brandon Gale, who is currently facing charges of using her and another underage girl to make pornography. J.M.S. lived in a house without electricity or running water in a remote part of Utah. Even if she could have obtained the required parental consent and scraped together money for an abortion and a couple of nights in a hotel to comply with Utah’s twenty-four-hour waiting period, simply getting to the nearest clinic posed an enormous challenge. Salt Lake City is more than a three-hour drive from her town, twice that in bad weather, when snow makes the mountain passes treacherous. There is no public transportation, and she didn’t have a driver’s license. . . .
In recent years, women in several states have faced arrest and imprisonment for the crime of ending their pregnancies, or merely attempting to do so. For decades now, feminists have warned about a post–Roe v. Wade world in which women are locked up for having abortions. Antiabortion activists dismiss such fears as propaganda. . . .
April 14, 2011
A Look at Whether the Prison Rape Elimination Act Will Protect Incarcerated Women
The Nation: Will the Justice Department Stand Up for Women Raped in Prison?, by Rachel Roth:
Eight years ago, Congress acknowledged the brutal fact of systemic sexual assault behind bars by unanimously passing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The Justice Department is now poised to issue final rules to implement the law, which makes federal funding to prisons and jails contingent on improved staff training, availability of medical and psychological services for people who suffer sexual assault, investigations and publicly available data about reported assaults.
But because violence is endemic to imprisonment, some level of sexual violence will persist. And for women, one consequence of sexual violence is pregnancy, especially for those who are forced to endure repeated rapes. More than 200,000 women are imprisoned right now, and many more pass through prisons and jails over the course of a year—each one vulnerable to sexual assault, and to pregnancy resulting from it. Despite the years of hearings, testimony and research, the Justice Department’s PREA rules still fail to protect the reproductive rights and health of women in this situation. . . .
September 29, 2010
Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill Banning Shackling of Pregnant Inmates
RH Reality Check: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill to Ban Shackling of Pregnant Women, by Jodi Jacobson:
Over the past year, we have invited a number of reproductive justice advocates to write about the barbaric practice still used in many United States prisons of shackling pregnant women, sometimes for transport, sometimes throughout their incarceration, and often while they are giving birth. Articles have been written on this issue by Tonya Williams, Malika Saada Saar, Anna Clark, and Amie Newman, among others, and we chronicled the passage of anti-shackling bills in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington State. The American Medical Association, the Association of Certified Nurse Midwives, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Human Rights Watch among other leading medical and human rights organizations oppose shackling of pregnant women.
Given the building consensus that shackling pregnant women is not only unnecessary--the vast majority are in prison for non-violent crimes in the first place--but degrading to say the least, it was a shock to find out this morning that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill passed by the California Legislature to end shackling of pregnant women in his state. . . .
September 26, 2010
In Wake of Mexico City's Legalization of Early Abortion, Many Mexican States Aggressively Enforce Abortion Bans
NY Times: Many States in Mexico Crack Down on Abortion, by Elisabeth Malkin:
September 14, 2010
Iranian Women's Rights Activist Released from Prison on Bail
Feminist Wire (Ms. Magazine): Iranian Activist and Journalist Released From Prison:
Iranian women's rights activist and journalist Shiva Nazar Ahari was released from the notorious Evin Prison yesterday on approximately $500,000 bail. Ahari had been held since December 2009 on a number of charges, including "waging war against God," according to Radio Free Europe.
Ahari was arrested while traveling to attend the funeral of dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. According to Reuters, an Iranian opposition website reported that, while in prison, Ahari has spent more than 100 days in solitary confinement. . . .
September 10, 2010
Mexican Women Imprisoned for "Infanticide" Are Freed After Advocates and Legislators InterveneLos Angeles Times: 7 Mexican Women Freed In So-Called Infanticide Cases, by Tracy Wilkinson & Cecilia Sanchez:
Advocates say the women, who insist they suffered miscarriages, got caught up in cultural wars over abortion.
The seven women were accused of killing their newborn babies and handed long prison sentences. They insisted they had suffered miscarriages and should not be punished; one claimed she wasn't even sure she was pregnant.
The women have finally been freed, after years in jail and only after their cause was taken up by human rights organizations here and abroad and by a handful of determined legislators. . . .
Advocates for the women say they got caught up in Mexico's cultural wars over abortion. . . .
July 23, 2010
Mark Egerman on Inmates' Right to Elective Abortions Under the Eighth Amendment
Mark Egerman (fellow, Georgetown University Law Center, and staff counsel, National Abortion Federation) has posted Roe v. Crawford: Do Inmates Have an Eighth Amendment Right to Elective Abortions?, on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This note examines the legal questions surrounding incarcerated women who wish to receive an abortion. The note examines the 8th Circuit's ruling in Roe v. Crawford and explores the two legal arguments presented in that case. While the court ultimately found the Fourteenth Amendment argument valid and rejected the Eighth Amendment, the author argues that grounding inmate abortion rights in the Eighth Amendment is ultimately a more sustainable solution for reproductive justice advocates. The core of an Eighth Amendment case is presented with corresponding medical evidence that argues that not only should inmates have access to abortions, but that they should be funded the same as any other serious medical need under the Eighth Amendment.
May 25, 2010
Parker County Jail Refuses to Transport Inmate for Abortion
Star-Telegram: ACLU raises questions about Parker County's refusal to transport inmate to get an abortion, by Bill Hanna:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas questions whether Parker County is infringing on the constitutional rights of its female prisoners after it declined to take an inmate to a medical facility for an abortion.
In a May 18 letter to Parker County officials, the ACLU said that a female prisoner was recently denied transportation outside the jail for the procedure. The group says that Parker County should develop a policy to ensure that other inmates' constitutional rights are not violated in the future. . . .
May 19, 2010
Wash. State Dept. of Corrections Settles with Inmate Shackled During Childbirth
Seattle 911: A Police Blog: DOC settles with woman shackled during childbirth, by Levi Pulkkinen:
The Department of Corrections will pay $125,000 to settle a civil claim by a former inmate who was shackled as she gave birth while in custody.
Former inmate Casandra Brawley filed the suit after giving birth to her son in April 2007 at a Tacoma hospital.
"We are pleased that our client has been compensated for what she endured, and that the legislature has eliminated any possibility of women in prison experiencing this treatment," said Brawley's attorney Sara Ainsworth, of the women's rights organization Legal Voice. . . .