Reproductive Health Locked Up: An Examination of Pennsylvania Jail Policies

Reproductive Health Locked Up

In 2012, the ACLU of Pennsylvania released its report "Reproductive Health Locked Up: An Examination of Pennsylvania Jail Policies," which found that none of the 57 counties in the commonwealth that house women in their county jails have adequate policies in place to ensure that incarcerated women have access to the reproductive health care services to which they are legally entitled.

These policy shortcomings not only put women's health at risk, but they also leave county jails open to legal liability. Many are mothers and the sole caretakers of their children.

Originally developed with men in mind, jail policies often fail to take into consideration the unique needs of incarcerated women. There are more than 3,800 women in Pennsylvania county jails at any given moment. Three out of four of them are of reproductive age, and approximately six percent are pregnant upon admission to jail.

The report examined policies on a range of issues, including pregnancy testing, contraception, prenatal care, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and access to abortion services.

Since the publication of the report, the Duvall Project has worked with decision-makers at more than two dozen county jails to amend their reproductive healthcare policies, resulting in tangible improvements in prenatal care and abortion care for women in these jails.

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