FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2019
Kimberly Haven, Reproductive Justice Inside
(443) 987-3959 firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Philip, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland
(202) 870-0422 email@example.com
PRESS STATEMENTS ON SIGNING FIRST-IN-NATION BILL TO
PROTECT PREGNANT WOMEN FROM FORCED SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
(ANNAPOLIS, MD) Tomorrow morning Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is scheduled to sign SB0809 into law. This legislation requires that each state and local correctional and detention facility has a written policy banning the use of involuntary medical isolation and restrictive housing of pregnant inmates and those in the post-pregnancy recovery period. With this form of solitary confinement, a pregnant woman is placed in a cell behind a locked metal door for at least 22 hours a day, removed from all programming or support networks she has developed inside. The lead senate bill sponsor is Senator Susan Lee (D16), and the house version is sponsored by Delegate Wanika Fisher (D47B). Maryland is the first state in the nation to pass legislation on this issue. In response to news of the bill signing, the following statements have been released:
Kim Haven, Reproductive Justice Inside: “The passage of SB0809 ends the medically unnecessary practice of punishing a woman for simply being pregnant. The U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, and a growing number of medical associations, professionals, and advocates condemn this practice. Maryland now has too.”
Senator Susan Lee: “By ending the practice of placing pregnant and post-pregnant women in solitary confinement, Maryland is again a national leader as we take steps towards restoring and ensuring the dignity for incarcerated women. This archaic practice flies in the face of public health, decency, and global rules about incarceration.”
Delegate Wanika Fisher: “It is so important that women in our criminal justice system are treated fairly. Placing pregnant inmates in solitary confinement is wrong. It is wrong for the woman and is it is wrong for the pregnancy. No matter where women are they should not be punished for being women.”
The lead advocates are members of Reproductive Justice Inside, a statewide coalition formed in 2017 to address the needs of systems-involved individuals seeking quality and timely sexual and reproductive healthcare, as well as the right to parent with dignity. This legislation was a priority during the 2019 Maryland General Assembly for the coalition, whose members include: American College of Nurse Midwives – Maryland Affiliate; Baltimore Doula Project; Center on Applied Feminism, University of Baltimore School of Law; Gender Violence Clinic, University of Maryland School of Law; If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, University of Baltimore School of Law; Interfaith Action for Human Rights; Justice and Recovery Advocates; Life After Release; Maryland Justice Project; Maryland State Conference of the NAACP; MD NOW, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland; Out for Justice; Planned Parenthood of Maryland; Power Inside; Pregnancy in Prison Statistics; The Women’s Law Center of Maryland, Inc.; Whole Woman’s Health of Baltimore; and Women’s Justice Consortium.
Other groups which provided testimony in support included: Maryland Attorney General; National Association of Women Judges; Baltimore Monthly Meeting of Friends Stony Run; Disability Rights Maryland; Jews United for Justice; Women’s Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform; Maryland Catholic Conference; Mental Health Association of Maryland; National Association of Social Workers – Maryland; Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland; and Women’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County, MD.