Senate Bill 1074, previously known as the Healthy Birth for Incarcerated Women Act, passed in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on June 29th. The bill bans the shackling of pregnant inmates in transit to a medical facility, during labor, and for a reasonable amount of time after labor. The legislation allows for exceptions to the rule in extraordinary circumstances. Governor Ed Rendell signed the bill into law on July 2.
The barbaric practice of shackling women during labor presents many health risks that we have previously detailed. Recognizing these risks, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all have urged legislators to end the practice of chaining women in labor.
State Corrections officials have said they support the bill. No inmates in labor have ever attempted escape and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections “policy already mirrors the… anti-shackling law.”
Pennsylvania is now the eighth state to ban shackling of inmates in childbirth via statute. Other states that have taken this measure to protect female inmates are Texas, New Mexico, New York, California, Washington, Illinois, and Vermont.