Woman Allegedly Forced To Give Birth On Jail Cell Toilet, Alone

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From ThinkProgress:

A new lawsuit claims that a female inmate was forced to give birth on her jail cell toilet, after medical attendants ignored her pleas for help.

Plaintiff Tawni Kosnosky, says she was booked in 2013 around her seventh month of pregnancy, which she informed Snohomish County Jail medical staff about. But when her water broke days later, and she repeatedly pressed the emergency button in her cell, she says that staff ignored her calls for assistance. When medical attendants eventually responded, Kosnowsky alleges that she was bleeding and in pain. Instead of removing the inmate from her cell, however, staff allegedly told her to use a sanitary napkin and lie down. She also claims that, despite subsequent cries and screams for help, which were echoed by other inmates in the vicinity, an on-duty officer told her to listen to the attendants’ advice and stop pushing the emergency button — and that she eventually had the baby while sitting on the toilet.

Soon after the incident occurred, Shari Ireton, a spokeswoman for Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, said jail personnel were monitoring Kosnosky throughout the day, because she’d reported abdominal pain. Jail officials did call 911 about 20 minutes before the baby was born, according to a news report.

But Kosnosky maintains she was largely ignored by jail personnel.

Across the country, incarcerated women give birth in similar circumstances. Last year, a Texas inmate was allegedly forced to give birth in solitary confinement, as jail staff ignored her screams and requests for help. The baby was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck, and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. Another woman in Maryland who was denied care by medical personnel gave birth in a cell furnished with a toilet and a bed without sheets.

The policy of shackling women in labor is also widespread, even though it’s considered a dangerous and inhumane practice. A recent report detailing the treatment of pregnant women in New York, found that women were routinely shackled while giving birth, and during the drive to and from prison. They were also denied adequate food or fed foods that are ill-advised during pregnancy. Many were housed in cells with poor ventilation, and pest infestation.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 4 percent of women in state prisons are pregnant upon admission, compared to 3 percent of women in federal facilities.

Read the original article from Think Progress here.