Where's Michigan? 

When we read in the July/August issue of Mother Jones that just two states outlaw the shackling of female inmates while they are giving birth, the unshakable optimist in us hoped against hope Michigan was one of the two.

Alas, it's just California and Illinois that have laws against the practice, with Vermont regulating the use of restraints on pregnant women, according to the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for "vulnerable families."

Five states and the District of Columbia have policies against restraining women in labor set by various state agencies. Again, Michigan is not among them.

With about 5 percent of female inmates pregnant when they enter prisons, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, birth behind bars is not a rare situation, says Darla Bardine, associate policy director at the Rebecca Project.

"Our moms are being treated very inhumanely. What's happened is there are no gender-specific practices for women being incarcerated. The rules, policies and practices are implemented for men and being thoughtlessly transferred to women," she says. Restraining women during pregnancy "is not good for the health of the mother or the child," Bardine says.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees. "The practice of shackling an incarcerated woman in labor may not only compromise her health care but is demeaning and unnecessary," writes ACOG executive vice president Ralph Hale in a letter supporting federal legislation to prohibit the practice.

Congress this year mandated that federal agencies begin documenting, reporting and justifying the use of restraints during labor and delivery. Bardine is hopeful this will translate to a complete ban in the federal system soon.

Meanwhile, she's helping coordinate a national effort to lobby states to change their practices. And no, no one from Michigan is yet involved there, she says.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 19, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation