NPR examines the shackling of women in labor and childbirth

Rachel Roth

NPR recounts chilling tales by women who were shackled during labor and childbirth, and reports on the ongoing efforts to end this practice.

National Public Radio has a powerful story about women who were shackled in labor while they were in jail or prison.

In one of the most appalling segments, a woman described being jailed at 17, pregnant for the first time. Her fetus died, and she was taken to the hospital to induce delivery. The process took three days – and she was shackled to the bed the entire time.

She is one of the many plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Cook County, Illinois, where jail personnel shackle women in labor in violation of a state statute that bans the practice. Illinois was the first state to enact a law against shackling. These women’s stories are a powerful reminder that a law is only as good as its enforcement.

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