Incarcerated Women

Since 1978, the number of women in state prisons has increased nine-fold, growing at more than twice the pace of men. Incarcerated women face unique barriers to health care, and those who are pregnant and postpartum are at increased risk of negative health outcomes. Despite bipartisan support for criminal-justice reform, in many states the health care needs of incarcerated women remain unaddressed. ACOG supports policies to:

 1. Improve Access to Comprehensive, High Quality Care
 2. Limit the Use of Restraints on Pregnant and Postpartum Women and Adolescents
 3. Reduce Barriers to Menstrual Hygiene Products 

1. Improve Access to Comprehensive, Quality Care

ACOG supports policies that ensure comprehensive, quality care in prisons and jails, including preventive, behavioral health, and pregnancy-related services. Incarcerated individuals who are pregnant should receive counseling, perinatal care, and abortions services if desired. Postpartum women who choose to breastfeed their newborns should receive the same education and support as nonincarcerated women and support maternal-infant contact through adequate developmental support.

ACOG Position

Other Organizations

State Advocacy Resources 

2. Limit the Use of Restraints on Pregnant and Postpartum Women and Adolescents

ACOG supports policies limiting the use of shackling during labor and delivery, transport to-and-from medical facilities, and during postpartum recovery. Optimal policies also give physicians authority to remove restraints, protect patient privacy, and require documentation of instances of shackling for both juveniles and adults. Shackling is demeaning, and is rarely necessary. It compromises a physician’s ability to provide compassionate health care. If restraint is needed, it should be the least restrictive possible and should never interfere with leg movement or the woman’s ability to break a fall.

ACOG Position

Other Organizations

State Legislation

State Advocacy Resources

3. Reduce Barriers to Menstrual Hygiene Products

Menstrual hygiene products can be inaccessible or cost-prohibitive to inmates in many prisons and jails throughout the country. ACOG supports policies to reduce barriers to access and ensure incarcerated women have access to the appropriate type and quantity of menstrual hygiene products for their hygiene needs.

State Advocacy Resources

Contact:

Mailing Address:
PO Box 96920
Washington, DC 20090-6920
stateleg@acog.org

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street SW, Washington, DC  20024-2188