Violence and Racism in the Criminal Legal System: A Women's Health Crisis
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes racism in all of its overt and covert forms and recognizes that institutionalized racism, including in policies and practices by law enforcement, is a public healthi and women’s health crisisii. ACOG is committed to taking action to eliminate racism, bias, and systemic inequity, including with respect to law enforcement. Below are examples of how women’s health care physicians and clinicians can work to confront these issues:
- Oppose and seek to eliminate policies and practices that criminalize patients and their families, including understanding and combating the ways that interactions with the health care system can increase their exposure to the criminal legal system;
- Understand the impact of systemic racism and inequity in law enforcement of patients seeking obstetric and gynecologic care and as a core social determinant of health; engage in proactive listening and anti-racism education to inform this work.
- Deliver patient-centered, trauma-informed care,iii including active listening and screening for trauma induced by racism and systemic inequity; and
- Advocate for federal, state, and local policies that support investments in community safety that center the experiences and needs of communities of color and other marginalized populations, provide implicit bias and anti-racism training to support law enforcement, institute robust law enforcement accountability measures, facilitate the decarceration of prisons, jails, and other detention facilities, support community-based alternatives to incarceration, and that support research regarding the impact of racism in law enforcement on health outcomes.
iSee, e.g., American Medical Association. Special Report: Police Violence Must Stop (Interview Transcript). Available at: https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/health-equity/special-report-police-brutality-must-stop. Retrieved Oct. 21, 2020; American Public Health Association. Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue. APHA Policy No. 201811, Nov. 18, 2020. Available at: https://apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2019/01/29/law-enforcement-violence. Retrieved Oct. 21, 2020; DeVylder JE, Jun H, Fedina L, et al. Association of Exposure to Police Violence with Prevalence of Mental Health Symptoms Among Urban Residents in the United States. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(7):e184945. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.4945
iiSee, e.g, Premkumar, Ashish MD; Nseyo, Onouwem MD; Jackson, Andrea V. MD, MAS Connecting Police Violence with Reproductive Health, Obstetrics & Gynecology: January 2017 - Volume 129 - Issue 1 - p 153-156 doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001731
iiiSee, e.g., Trauma Informed Care Implementation Resource Center. What is Trauma Informed Care?. Available at: https://www.traumainformedcare.chcs.org/what-is-trauma-informed-care/. Retrieved Oct. 21, 2020.
Approved by the Board of Directors June 2020