Bill ensuring healthier pregnancies for incarcerated women passes Senate

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Senate approved a reform Thursday to improve health outcomes for babies born to moms who are incarcerated.

If signed into law, Senate Bill 2769 by Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, would limit the use of restraints on pregnant women, who are incarcerated, during child labor, while in transport to a medical facility, and during active delivery.

“We want safe and healthy pregnancies for every mother and child,” said Sen. Akbari. “By restricting the dangerous and inhumane practice of shackling incarcerated women who give birth while in correctional custody, we are promoting better pregnancy outcomes.”

The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up the bill next week.

While child birth during incarceration is somewhat rare, it does occur. And when it does, the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics says that restraining incarcerated women at any time increases the potential for physical harm for a woman and her fetus, including the potential for miscarriage. Shackling can interfere with appropriate medical care and can be detrimental to the health of the mother and her newborn child.

State officials have already implemented rules to limit the practice of shackling during child labor at state-run facilities. This law would codify the prohibition and also ensure that county jails no longer use restraints during child labor.

There are some exceptions in the bill that allow for the loosest possible restraints when the safety of officers, the incarcerated person or the child is in question.

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Tennessee Senate Democrats

Tennessee Senate Democrats

Fighting for everyday people in the Tennessee General Assembly