We are eliminating barriers for incarcerated and detained individuals to receive quality and timely sexual and reproductive healthcare, instituting appropriate and clear written policies in all correctional and detention facilities, and helping more pregnant people learn about their rights to healthcare and services. In 2017, our affiliate convened a coalition, Reproductive Justice Inside (RJI), which is collecting stories from current and previously incarcerated or detained individuals of being denied, delayed, or provided poor sexual or reproductive healthcare while in the care/custody/control of the state. Since 2018, we have been able to pass three of four pieces of legislation into state law, including two there were in the first in the nation.
In the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions, the RJI has been working to pass what we have been calling PICCA (The Pregnant Incarcerated Continuity of Care Act), HB0235 – Correctional Services – Pregnant Incarcerated Individuals – Substance Abuse Assessment and Treatment. This legislation will ensure that pregnant incarcerated individuals will be able to access critical healthcare and be provided continuity of care upon release through coordinated and implemented reentry and referral plans. The bill calls for proper assessment for any factor contributing to a high-risk pregnancy, such as substance use, mental health, or HIV status. Receiving appropriate healthcare and assessment while inside, no matter the length of confinement, with coordination of continued care upon release will lead to improved pregnancy outcomes. This effort is good risk management for our correctional facilities and jurisdictions, and badly needed as our correctional systems continue to struggle with appropriate and timely responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the 2019 legislative session, the RJI coalition worked to achieve passage of the following bill:
SB0809: Restrictive Housing – Ban on Solitary Confinement of Pregnant Incarcerated People
- This bill was the first in the nation that prohibits placing pregnant, post-pregnant, or postpartum woman involuntarily in restrictive housing/medical isolation/infirmary/solitary confinement from the date her pregnancy is confirmed through an 8-week post pregnancy/post-partum period.
In the 2018 legislative session, the RJI coalition was instrumental in working to achieve the passage of the following bills:
SB0598: Menstrual Equity
- This bill requires that all correctional and detention facilities in Maryland, including local centers used for temporary holds or ICE detention, provide menstrual hygiene products to those in their care, custody and control, free of charge and in the quantities they need and upon request.
SB0629: Pregnancy-Related Health Care and Services Policies
- This legislation requires that all correction and detention facilities to develop written policies regarding their medical care and services for pregnant individuals, covering the following topics: pregnancy testing, pregnancy options counseling, prenatal care, high risk pregnancies, miscarriage management, abortion care access, labor and delivery, postpartum care, counseling and social services and the prohibition of the use of restraints. Additionally, this legislation requires each facility to provide an inmate with a positive pregnancy test result a copy of the written policies.