A Newsletter on Pregnancy & Parenting in Prisons JIWC Newsletter October 2022
Special Edition In light of an increasingly restricted landscape for abortion provision in the U.S. this newsletter will focus on the impact of Dobbs on justice-involved women and children.
About Our Newsletter Our newsletter features timely research and community spotlights, and highlights relevant resources and events at the intersection of incarceration, pregnancy, and parenting. This work is supported by the national Cross-Center Collaboration on the Health of Justice-Involved Women and Children (JIWC). The collaboration is made up of a group of formerly or currently HRSA-funded faculty, staff, and students from the following institutions’ maternal and child health (MCH) Centers of Excellence: the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, Emory, Harvard, the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Johns Hopkins, the University of Alabama, and the University of North Carolina.
Have a resource, community spotlight, event, or research findings you’d like us to feature in our next newsletter?Email us and someone from our team will follow-up with you.
The Public Health Imperative of Abortion Access Friday, October 14, 2022 | 10:00 AM- 11:00 AM CDT (Virtual) The past decade has seen a steady and dramatic increase in legislative attacks on abortion access in the United States, often under the perilous guise of “protecting women’s health.” A robust body of evidence has, however, demonstrated that access to abortion is vital to the health and well-being of pregnant people and their families and that restrictions on abortion access threaten public health. With the recent repeal of Roe v Wade, people in more than half of the country will be forced to make decisions regarding traveling for care, navigating self-care options, or not receiving care at all. The tortuous financial, logistical, and legal barriers to abortion that are emerging in a Post-Roe United States will only further exacerbate structural inequities and imperiling the health, lives, freedom, and reproductive well-being of millions of Americans. Dr. Caitlyn Gerdts, Vice President for Research at Ibis Reproductive Health, will be presenting. Sponsored by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health's: Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health, and MCH Student Interest Group. Follow this link for more event information and to register.
Pregnancy, Prison & the End of Roe
Join Into America for their podcast episode “Pregnancy, Prison, and the End of Roe” as they explore “what it means to be pregnant behind bars” in a post-Roe America. The episode guests include Pamela Winn, the founder of RestoreHer, and Marva Sadler, a healthcare provider practicing in Texas. Jailed and Pregnant: What the Roe Repeal Means for Incarcerated People In this episode from John Hopkins’ podcast Public Health On Call Josh Sharfstein sits down with OB-GYN and reproductive health researcher Dr. Caroyln Sufrin to discuss the implications of Dobbs on incarcerated people. Policing the Womb: How the State Criminalizes Reproduction Join Jane Richards for her interview with Michelle Goodwin, author of Policing the Womb which New Books Network describes as “a brilliant but shocking account of the criminalization of all aspects of reproduction, pregnancy, abortion, birth, and motherhood in the United States. Through her extensive research, Michele Goodwin recounts the horrific contemporary situation…[and]contextualizes the modern-day situation in America’s history of slavery and oppression, and also in relation to its place in the world.” Listen to the podcast interview here. Read the review here.
Research & Resources
Guide for Professionals: Confronting Pregnancy Criminalization The National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) created a practical guide for healthcare providers, lawyers, medical examiners, child welfare workers, and policymakers: “For decades, pregnant people across America have been subjected to criminalization and deprivations of liberty on the basis of pregnancy or pregnancy outcomes. Women have been targeted by police and prosecutors, healthcare providers, child welfare workers, and judges who have sought to deprive them of their constitutional rights in the name of ‘fetal personhood.’ Confronting Pregnancy Criminalization: A Practical Guide for Healthcare Providers, Lawyers, Medical Examiners, Child Welfare Workers, and Policymakers arms professionals with the tools to end this criminalization.” Read the guide and watch their webinar to get the tools you need to navigate an increasingly restrictive landscape for reproductive health. Brief: Legal Implications of the Fetal Personhood Movement Read a brief from the NAPW, detailing the legal implications of the fetal personhood movement. In their section on incarceration, they report: “when fetal rights are expanded, pregnant people’s rights shrink. While the logic of fetal personhood could hypothetically be mobilized to the benefit of pregnant people – e.g., by asserting that they cannot be incarcerated – such efforts are most likely to fail or backfire into even greater contraction of pregnant people’s rights” (p. 34). As this movement gains traction, there will be notable consequences on a wide range of reproductive health services and criminal law. Brief: Restricted Abortion Access for People on Probation & Parole In their recent brief, Wendy Sawyer and Wanda Bertram examine the implications of the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on people on probation or parole. They conclude: “Far too many individuals, having been swept into the criminal legal system by laws that criminalize poverty, will now find themselves without recourse for accessing what should be basic healthcare.” They emphasize new trigger laws will disproportionately impact low-income people of color, many of whom are already under-resourced, under-insured, and unfairly surveilled. The findings are further summarized in the following Instagram post. Follow the Prison Policy Initiative Instagram account to see additional infographics, and share relevant findings with your networks. Factsheet: Criminalization of Pregnant Women (1973-2020) While the overturning of Roe will undoubtedly have major implications for reproductive health in this country, NAPW contextualizes this decision in a long history of criminalizing pregnant people. In their factsheet, “Arrests and Prosecutions of Pregnant Women, 1973-2020” they document over 1,700 cases “in which being pregnant was a necessary element of the crime.” Lynn M. Paltrow reports over 1,200 of these cases took place after 2006. Pulling together a variety of studies, legal cases, books, films, and more, the NAPW examines the implications of fetal personhood movements on pregnant peoples legal rights and liberties. NAPW has additional factsheets on drug use during pregnancies and HIPAA Protections for patients seeking pregnancy care and abortion.
Disproportionate Burden of Dobbs v. Jackson on Incarcerated People Carly Graf warns that without the protection of Roe, incarcerated populations are at increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Involuntary pregnancies, inadequate miscarriage management, and the continued process of forcible separation following delivery are all practices in complete opposition to those rooted in reproductive justice. Graf surveys the changing national legal landscape for reproductive rights as it applies to carceral settings. Racism & Mass Incarceration Post-Roe Listen or read to Sandhya Dirks’ piece for NPR examining the intersections of mass incarceration, the war on drugs, and increased policing and surveillance of pregnant people’s bodies. The fetus is a “new class” of a crime victim. Dana Sussman, the Executive Director for the NAPW reports: “Often what we see is the conversion of otherwise legal behavior during pregnancy to criminal behavior, simply because the person is pregnant.” Dirks emphasizes that this rise in criminalization of pregnant people will disproportionately impact Black women. Roe Outrage & Inclusion of Incarcerated Populations In response to the leaked SCOTUS draft, Zahara Hill’s piece “Incarcerated Women Need a Place in Your Roe Outrage” sheds light on how incarcerated people are disproportionately impacted by restrictions on abortion. Hill writes, “For decades, many incarcerated women have effectively been navigating a post-Roe world.” Hill’s predictions are already coming to fruition as incarcerated populations are unable to travel outside of the state in which they reside to escape increasingly dystopian reproductive health laws.
Meet Our Team
Rosie Laine (Editor) is a second year master’s degree student at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health in the Maternal and Child Health Programwith a minor in sexual health. She is especially interested in reproductive justice, patient advocacy, health education, and harm reduction.
Rebecca Shlafer (PhD, MPH) is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Shlafer's research focuses on understanding the developmental outcomes of children and families impacted by incarceration. She is particularly interested in children with parents in prison, as well as the programs and policies that impact families impacted by incarceration. Dr. Shlafer is the research Director for the Minnesota Prison Doula Project.
Jennifer Saunders (MSW) is a doctoral candidate in the Health Services Research, Policy and Administration program in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Her research interest is health policy that impacts reproductive-age women and their families.