July 20, 2018

Duckworth, Murray and 20 Colleagues Introduce Legislation to End the Trump Administration’s Practice of Detaining and Shackling Pregnant Women


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and 20 of their colleagues introduced the Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act this week to protect the health and well-being of pregnant and young women in custody by establishing new standards of care and transparency and prohibiting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from shackling pregnant women in its custody.

“The Trump Administration’s practice of shackling and detaining pregnant women must stop immediately,” said Duckworth. “This policy puts mothers and their infants at risk while also denying these women the essential maternal care they deserve. I’m proud to join Senator Murray and 20 colleagues in introducing this legislation that will set new standards for the treatment of pregnant and young women in detention.”

In May, the Illinois legislature passed a similar bill to keep pregnant women out of jail while awaiting trial for nonviolent offenses.

To protect the health and safety of pregnant women and youth in detention, the Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act will do the following:

  • Reinstate the presumption of release of pregnant women and youth, with exceptions only when the DHS Secretary makes an individualized determination that credible, reasonable grounds exist to believe that the person presents an immediate and serious threat of hurting herself or others. If detained, only the least restrictive means of detention are permitted with a weekly review mandated.
  • Prohibit the shackling of pregnant women in custody at any time during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum recovery.
  • Set a minimum standards of comprehensive health care for any pregnant women or youth in custody including: routine or specialized prenatal care, comprehensive counseling, postpartum follow-up services, lactation services, and abortion services.
  • Require pregnant women and youth in custody are given privacy during a pelvic exam, labor, delivery, or treatment of any other symptom relating to a pregnancy.
  • Require public quarterly reporting on detention of pregnant women and youth, including audits and reports to Congress.

In addition to Senator Duckworth, the Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act is also cosponsored by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

The Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act, has been endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Women’s Refugee Commission, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, NARAL Pro-Choice America, The Center for Reproductive Rights, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Human Rights Watch, Guttmacher Institute, Church World Service, MomsRising, Amnesty International, Anti-Defamation League, March of Dimes, and National Council of Jewish Women, Inc.