Unfortunately, many pregnant women end up residing in prison. Whether they're serving a short sentence or are destined to be there for life, more and more pregnant women will serve time in jail for their crimes. You'd think that they'd still receive decent care due in large part to their condition. But more often than not, you'd be wrong about that.
In the state of Ohio, a bill has been proposed to ban the practice of shackling pregnant women while they're giving birth. Known as Senate Bill 18, the ban would "prohibit restraining or confining a woman or child who is a charged, convicted, or adjudicated criminal offender or delinquent child at certain points during pregnancy or postpartum recovery". In addition, it would also ban law enforcement from putting women or children into solitary confinement "in an enclosed space".
According to a press release from the Ohio Senate, there's "overwhelming evidence" that physical restraints such as shackles are quite dangerous for pregnant women and unborn babies during labour and delivery. That's because more often than note, they delay and/or prevent doctors and health professionals from providing "necessary medical care". Shackling is also dangerous for pregnant women during the second trimester.
That being said, there will be exceptions made for certain women. Those who are deemed to be a flight risk or are a serious threat to others will most likely remain shackled. However, they'll only be allowed if an official properly informs a doctor or other health professional of this. Yet the doctor or health professional in question has the right to object this if they believe that the shackles pose a real risk of physical harm.
As of now, Senate Bill 18 was passed unanimously by the State Senate. It's now working its way through the Ohio House for consideration. But between the bipartisan support for this bill and the fact that President Donald Trump signed a new law that banned shackling in federal prisons several months ago, this bill could very well become law sooner than later.
"I am proud of the bipartisan effort to get this bill passed and I am proud of the Ohio Senate for once again taking action to protect the health and dignity of pregnant mothers and their babies," Republican state Senator Peggy Lehner said. She's also the lead sponsor of this bill.