HARRISBURG- The Pennsylvania Senate today unanimously passed legislation to ban the shackling of pregnant inmates in labor in the commonwealth's state prisons and county jails. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania hailed the vote as "a victory for women and for children."
"It's unfortunate that we have to even advocate for such a bill, but we and our allies have heard multiple stories of inmates being shackled while giving birth," said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "The Senate's passage of this legislation sends a positive message about basic human rights and human dignity in Pennsylvania."
If Senate Bill 1074 becomes law, Pennsylvania will join Texas, New Mexico, New York, California, Illinois, and Vermont among the states with laws banning the practice. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and the federal Marshalls Service also have policies that block the shackling of inmates during childbirth.
Hoover noted that health professionals broadly oppose the practice and support laws and policies that ban it.
"The American Public Health Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognize the harm that is done to a mother and to a baby when the mother is restrained in this way," Hoover said. "It is simply an inhumane and unsafe practice."
Along with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, other supporters of the legislation include the Pennsylvania Prison Society, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, the Women's Law Project, Pennsylvania NOW, the Maternity Care Coalition, and Women's Way.
SB 1074, which was introduced by Senator Daylin Leach of Montgomery County, now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.