Birth Behind Bars

Lawmakers and citizens of every political stripe should embrace a bill that limits the dangerous practice of shackling pregnant inmates during labor and delivery, writes law student Hilary Detmold in a Rappaport Briefing commentary.

Massachusetts is one of seven states that have come under fire from the National Women’s Law Center for outmoded shackling policies, Detmold points out in her commentary, "Safe pregnancies for incarcerated women: Why both parties should support anti-shackling legislation."

Massachusetts House Bill 2234, "An Act relative to safe pregnancies and related health care for female inmates," addresses the shackling issue, and Detmold argues that “civil rights organizations as well as conservative, pro-life groups can unite in supporting the protection of women and children in safe pregnancy and delivery.”

“In Idaho, the ACLU and Right to Life—the extreme left and the extreme right of the political spectrum, one might say—recently joined forces to help pass such a bill,” she writes.

While Detmold acknowledges that some see women prisoners as an unsympathetic population, yet these women are hindered by circumstances and thus yield little political power. Moreover, their plight may be considered a human rights issue.

Detmold is interested in labor and employment law, and she hopes to pursue a career in civil litigation.

The Rappaport Briefing offers a collection of student commentaries on issues confronting state and local government in Massachusetts, from utilities regulation to English-language learning.

The briefing blog, created by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School, also presents news about Rappaport Center activities.