Press Release: All Women Deserve to be Treated with Human Dignity; Even Those Who Are Pregnant Behind Bars


September 14, 2018     


All Women Deserve to be Treated with Human Dignity;

Even Those Who Are Pregnant

Alexandria, VA - The American Conservative Union (“ACU”) Foundation commends the work of Reps. Mia Love (R-UT) and Karen Bass (D-CA) for authoring H.R. 6805, the Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act, which was introduced today in the US House of Representatives. As a conservative organization with a focus on improving the criminal justice system for all, we are pleased to see this positive step towards affording every woman in prison a degree of basic human dignity – something that is often lost in a system designed for men.

ACU’s General Counsel and Deputy Director of the ACUF Center for Criminal Justice Reform, David Safavian explained: “As conservatives, we believe every life has value.  The Love-Bass legislation ensures that expectant mothers are provided everything necessary for a safe pregnancy and a healthy delivery, even if they are behind bars. Nothing is more pro-life than that.”

Women are the fastest growing population in our federal prison system. The number of women behind bars in the United States has increased by more than 700% since the 1980s, nearly double the rate at which the male population has grown. As a result, the United States is home to approximately 30% of all of the world’s incarcerated women. Unfortunately, the unique needs and challenges of incarcerated women are often left out of conversations about criminal justice reform.

The Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act would address pregnancy-related needs of incarcerated women. In addition to providing access to prenatal and post-delivery care and support to pregnant and postpartum inmates, training and technical assistance would be provided to correctional staff to ensure compliance. State incentives would also be provided to further support the overall goals of the legislation.

One key provision deals with the degrading practice of shackling pregnant women during pregnancy and delivery. Unbelievably, this heinous practice still happens far too often inside our prisons. The use of shackles and restraints can cause injuries to mothers and their babies, including physical trauma due to falls, increased pain during labor from bone separation and muscle tears, blocked circulation, and miscarriage.

“This barbaric practice of shackling serves no purpose other than humiliating and endangering both the mother and child. There have been no reported cases of pregnant women leaping off the gurney, while in labor, and managing to escape with an armed guard present in the room. It is absurd to think this would ever happen,” explained Pat Nolan, Director of the ACUF Center for Criminal Justice Reform.

 Kaitlin Owens, a policy analyst at ACUF, added:It's unfortunate to think that our prison system needs to be told to ‘treat human beings as human beings.’ While there is much to do to improve our prisons to make our communities safer, preserving dignity of incarcerated mothers and their newborn is a great first step.

As conservatives, we believe it is possible to be tough on crime, while recognizing that each person has inherent value. The principles underlying the Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act will help to preserve the human dignity of justice-involved women and keep their newborn children safe and healthy, all while achieving more positive results for families throughout the country.

 Our mission at the American Conservative Union Foundation is to educate Americans about conservative solutions to the country’s most pressing problems. ACUF’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform promotes policies that improve public safety, reduce government cost, and protect human dignity. Criminal Justice Reform is a high priority for ACUF, and it has been highlighted at each of ACUF’s Conservative Political Action Conferences (CPAC) for over a decade.


For more information on the ACUF Center for Criminal Justice Reform, please go to




CONTACT: David Safavian or Kaitlin Owens at (202) 347-9388