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By a unanimous vote of 42-0, South Carolina Senators advanced legislation yesterday that seeks to limit the types of restraints used on pregnant people who are incarcerated and virtually abolish the practice of shackling people during labor, childbirth, and postpartum recovery. The legislation will return to the House of Representatives with a new amendment which would further expand protections for pregnant incarcerated people. If passed as amended, South Carolina’s prisons, jails, and work camps would be required to provide access to adequate nutrition and a bottom bunk and would be prohibited from holding pregnant incarcerated people in solitary confinement under most circumstances. The amendment also requires prisons, jails, and work camps to ensure the availability of menstrual hygiene products for all people under their care with an active menstrual cycle and mandates that these products be made available at no cost to those who cannot afford to pay. Additionally, the Department of Corrections would be required to authorize weekly contact visits between incarcerated people with low or minimum-security classifications and their children.
"We are thrilled to be one step closer to ending the cruel and inhumane practice of shackling incarcerated people during labor, childbirth, and postpartum recovery,” said ACLU of South Carolina Policy and Communications Director Ali Titus. “We urge the South Carolina House of Representatives to pass this legislation as amended and greatly increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for parents and their newborn children.”
The practice of shackling incarcerated people while they are pregnant, in labor, giving birth, and recovering from birth has been opposed by the nation’s leading experts in maternal, fetal, and child healthcare, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association. Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the American Correctional Association have all adopted policies to limit the use of shackles on pregnant people who are incarcerated. Across South Carolina, criminal justice and reproductive health advocates have come together to support this legislation. The organizations include the ACLU of South Carolina; ANSWER Coalition; the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN); the South Carolina Perinatal Association; Justice Carolina; and the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network.
"We are encouraged that the Legislature may put an end to this inhumane practice and encourage policymakers to continue to work to ensure that all people have the support they need to have healthy pregnancies, deliveries, and births,” said Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network CEO Ann Warner.
SC Senate Advances Anti-Shackling Bill, Taking a Critical Step Forward for Incarcerated People
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