Across the country, incarcerated pregnant women are routinely shackled. Restraining a pregnant inmate can pose undue health risks for the woman and her fetus. Leg and wrist restraints increase the likelihood that a pregnant woman could trip, and they compromise her ability to brace against a fall, risking miscarriage and injury. Heavy belly or waist restraints can bruise a pregnant woman's abdomen and pose a risk to fetal health.
Freedom from physical restraints is especially critical during labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery. Women frequently need to move around during labor and recovery, particularly during the birthing process. The absence of physical restraints is essential so that medical staff can easily conduct any necessary emergency procedures. Following birth, it is critical for a woman to remain unshackled to prevent postpartum hemorrhage. Freedom from shackles after delivery also fosters postpartum bonding between a mother and her newborn, which is essential to the healthy development of the child. The ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project is assisting with potential litigation and legislative advocacy efforts. Complaints of inadequate medical care during labor and delivery and shackling in Georgia prisons and jails are being investigated. Legislation meant to restrict the use of restraints on women during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and/or during postpartum recovery has been presented to Georgia legislators for consideration.

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