Far too often, incarcerated pregnant women are unnecessarily shackled during pregnancy and childbirth. But a bill making its way through the Indiana state legislature would change that.

HB 1294 restricts the cruel practice of shackling pregnant women, and, instead, prioritizes the health of incarcerated women. This law is needed to protect incarcerated women who continue to experience dehumanizing, demeaning, and demoralizing practices during pregnancy and childbirth.
The shackling of pregnant women is inhumane. Although widely regarded as an assault on human dignity as well as an unsafe medical practice, women in jails and prisons are still routinely shackled during pregnancy and childbirth.

Restraining incarcerated women at any time increases the potential for physical harm for a woman and her fetus, including the potential for miscarriage. During labor, delivery and postpartum recovery, shackling can interfere with appropriate medical care and can be detrimental to the health of the mother and her newborn child.

Shackling women in labor and during childbirth is extraordinarily dangerous, for both mother and newborn, yet many jails and prisons still participate in this inhumane practice – despite a lack of evidence that any woman has escaped from custody during childbirth.

In fact, research shows that shackling women during labor and delivery is completely unnecessary in all but the most exceptional circumstances. Rather, shackling imposes a physically and emotionally devastating and unjustified additional punishment on those women who give birth during incarceration.

It is time that Indiana joins the majority of states in the country that have laws on the books that restrict the shackling of incarcerated women.