March 02, 2006

Women in Chains

It's time for the practice of shackling women in labor to end.

Many states justify restraints because the prisoners remain escape risks, though there have apparently been no instances of escape attempts by women in labor.

Then why do they do it?

Shawanna Nelson, a prisoner at the McPherson Unit in Newport, Ark., had been in labor for more than 12 hours when she arrived at Newport Hospital on Sept. 20, 2003. Ms. Nelson, whose legs were shackled together and who had been given nothing stronger than Tylenol all day, begged, according to court papers, to have the shackles removed.

Though her doctor and two nurses joined in the request, her lawsuit says, the guard in charge of her refused.

"She was shackled all through labor," said Ms. Nelson's lawyer, Cathleen V. Compton. "The doctor who was delivering the baby made them remove the shackles for the actual delivery at the very end."


"Here this young woman was in active labor," Ms. Simpson wrote, "handcuffed to the armed guard, wearing shackles, in her orange outfit that was dripping wet with amniotic fluid. Her age: 15!"


Ms. Nelson was serving time for identity fraud and writing bad checks when she gave birth at age 30. She weighed a little more than 100 pounds, and her baby, it turned out, weighed nine and a half pounds.

The experience of giving birth without anesthesia while largely immobilized has left her with lasting back pain and damage to her sciatic nerve, according to her lawsuit against prison officials and a private company, Correctional Medical Services.


Merica Erato, serving time for negligent homicide after a car accident, went through labor with chains around her ankles in Fond du Lac, Wis., in May, her husband, Steve, said in an interview.

"It is unbelievable that in this day and age a child is born to a woman in shackles," Mr. Erato said. "It sounds like something from slavery 200 years ago."

Unfortunately, it sounds all too possible.

Posted by binky at March 2, 2006 09:19 AM | TrackBack | Posted to You Can't Make This Stuff Up



I completely missed this...

Between NK setting off a Bomb, and our country doing this to its own people, I gotta say this is worse.

Posted by: StealthBadger at October 9, 2006 06:21 AM | PERMALINK
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