Shackling isn’t about safety. It’s about punishing those deemed unfit and undesirable for exercising the choice to become mothers.
To be a woman in this society is to be vulnerable physically, financially, and politically. 33 percent of women have been the victim of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Women, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.
Hundreds of thousands of women are positioned to lose access to birth control without a copayment after the Trump administration rolled back an Obamacare regulation that required employers to provide birth control in their health insurance plans. Additionally, women in jails are the fastest growing incarcerated population in the United States. This rapid growth is linked to trauma, sexual violence, and mental health issues.
Of the over 200,000 women in jail or prison, around 6 percent are pregnant while incarcerated. Only 22 states and the District of Columbia have laws against shackling pregnant incarcerated women, but this inhumane practice still takes place in these states because of nonspecific language about shackling pregnant women during transportation to medical facilities and first, second, and third trimesters. Essentially, pregnant women are being illegally restrained, and it’s difficult and often dangerous for these women to speak up for themselves. Often times, these women have already grown accustomed to maltreatment and abuse of power from prison employees.
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