Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill Thursday afternoon outlawing the practice of handcuffing women prisoners to hospital beds during childbirth in Massachusetts.
The law creates a uniform ban on restraining women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery in state and county correctional facilities unless they present a specific safety or flight risk.
"Unless it can be said with certainty that the inmate poses a serious and immediate physical danger to herself or her fellow inmates, she should not be tied down limb-by-limb in the 21st century here in Massachusetts," said Patrick. "I am proud to sign this legislation to formalize emergency regulations that ended the use of restrains on pregnant inmates in labor in all Department of Corrections facilities."
The new law also creates basic standards of prenatal and postpartum care to ensure safe, healthy outcomes for female prisoners and their newborns.
Female inmates will be screened for pregnancy prior to being admitted to a correctional facility. If pregnant, inmates will receive non-directive counseling, take part in exercise, and have appropriate prenatal nutrition and medical care.
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