Reproductive Injustice

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RJ Report Cover JPEGEvery time the CA visits a women’s prison in New York,  reports abound concerning the poor standards of health care in general, and the struggles  experienced by  women who are incarcerated to secure women-specific  care.   “Reproductive Injustice:  The State of Reproductive Health Care for Women in New York State,” the February 2015 report by the Women in Prison Project, reveals  the failure of the New York State prison system  to provide quality reproductive health care and treat women with respect for their basic dignity and human rights.

Based over a five-year period on interviews with 950 incarcerated women, 20 visits to prisons housing women in New York, data from over 1,550 surveys, and reviews of medical charts, the report reveals a shockingly poor standard of care, the routine denial of basic reproductive health and hygiene items, and the continued illegal practice of shackling pregnant women during labor and childbirth. Read our press release about the report here.

Download a pdf of the Executive Summary here

Download the full report here

Highlights of our key findings in “Reproductive Injustice” about reproductive health care in the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) are:

1)    Women are routinely shackled during pregnancy and some still experience the horror of being shackled during childbirth, even though this practice was outlawed in NY in 2009.

2)    Pregnant women face poor conditions of confinement, including insufficient food and damaging childbirth experiences.

3)    Many women receive substandard reproductive health care and face serious delays in accessing GYN services.

4)    Women are routinely denied basic reproductive health items, including contraception and sufficient sanitary supplies.

5)    Women in solitary confinement face egregious conditions, and pregnant women can be, and are, placed in solitary, a dangerous setting for them and their babies.

This report is the latest effort by the Women in Prison Project  and the Coalition for Women Prisoners to address the injustices of the prison system and to combat the over-incarceration of women.   It would not have been possible without the brave women who participated in this study, who struggle each day to achieve what many of us on the outside take for granted. They are vital to a Reproductive Justice movement that began in the mid-1990s by a group of African American women seeking to create a framework that links the achievement of reproductive justice to basic social-economic and political power and resources that can enable all women to make healthy and self-determining decisions.

Here are links to articles and  editorials about shackling and other examples of reproductive injustice:

To learn more, take action and get involved, you can:

  1. Join our Campaign to end reproductive injustice for incarcerated women

  2. Like us on FB, follow us on Twitter

  3. Share the report with your networks using these hashtags: #EndReproInjustice, #StopShackling and #EndMassIncarceration

  4. Donate to support our campaign