PHOENIX, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Arizona Representative Athena Salman and Senator Eva Burch introduced legislation to prohibit forced labor for pregnant women in prison.
Salman and Burch, according to a press release, are also strengthening rights for incarcerated women as well.
Both women presented the legislation, House Bill (HB) 2639, in response to reports of pregnant inmates at Perryville Prison going into labor against their will.
Should the legislation pass, HB 2639 will:
- Ban forced induction
- Guarantee prenatal care and educational programming
- Establish quality standards for feminine hygiene products
- Bans strip searches by someone of opposite gender
"When news broke that state prisons were forcing pregnant women to induce labor, my heart sank," Salman said.
"Having given birth to my first child a year ago, I know personally that having agency over the birthing process is critical to the both the mental and physical health of the mother. Our bill will ban forced inductions in prisons once and for all, in addition to solidifying more crucial protections for women in prison."
Senator Eva Burch stated, “Delivering a baby is a significant medical event that should be directed first and foremost by the wishes and needs of the pregnant individual. The safety and success of the birthing process depends heavily on the stability and comfort of the mother. It is unacceptable that our prison system is endangering the life of pregnant inmates by inducing them without their consent. My priority will be to ensure that our policy decisions provide every Arizonan, incarcerated or not, the highest level of professional and humane medical care.”