Nearly a quarter of a million women in the United States are incarcerated, and their needs understandably differ from those of incarcerated men. One situation that is unique to female inmates is pregnancy. If a woman enters jail or prison while they are pregnant, they have certain rights that apply to themselves and their child. You can learn more about these rights on this page.
The Rights of Incarcerated Pregnant Women
Women who are pregnant and serving a jail or prison sentence enjoy the following rights:
- The right both to request an abortion and to refuse an abortion.
- The right to prenatal care and medical care related to your pregnancy. You also have the right to postpartum care.
- The right to refuse unwanted birth control methods after your pregnancy.
- The right to receive medical care before having to pay for it.
- Depending on the state, you may have the right not to be shackled. Many states have laws against shackling pregnant women.
The first step in protecting your rights is understanding what they are. Make sure to review these rights so that you could recognize potential violations of these rights while in jail or in prison.
After a Rights Violation
If you think that your rights have been violated, the safety of yourself and your baby should be the first priority. If you do not receive the medical help that you need, ask other medical staff members or staff members to help you. In addition, you can file a grievance, which is an official complaint. This grievance may be denied or rejected. If this happens, you can then file an appeal.
Make sure that you are familiar with the rules related to the grievance system so that your grievance is not denied. It can help tremendously to have a lawyer assist you with this process. They will know the rules to follow and the right way to file a grievance so that it is not denied or you don’t miss any deadlines.
Another thing that you should do if your rights are violated is to document everything that happens. Keep a copy of any requests that you make, whether this is for medical help, an abortion, or another type of help. Keep track of information for the people that you have spoken to regarding your pregnancy, including Department of Corrections workers, other correctional facility staff members, medical staff, and more. By documenting everything that happened, you will have clear evidence of how your pregnancy rights have been violated.
One of the best things that you can do to protect yourself and your rights if you are an incarcerated pregnant woman is to contact an attorney. An attorney can help you determine if in fact your rights have been violated, and if so, how you can proceed in order to get justice. I am happy to help with your situation. Simply contact my office at 203-925-9200 and we can set up a free consultation to discuss your situation. I am here to help!