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Why is the U.S. Handcuffing Incarcerated Women In Childbirth?

Last week, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced The Dignity For Incarcerated Women Act, which seeks to address the mistreatment of incarcerated women, particularly those who are pregnant.

As of now, federal prisons still make common practice of shackling pregnant women, even while they give birth, and placing them in solitary confinement. This bill would make both of these practices illegal.

Outraged and saddened that we have to fight for basic dignities for this vulnerable population and the children who are directly impacted while in utero, we have decided to focus our energies here.

This bill would be stronger with Republican support; please urge Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) to join Booker & Warren in co-sponsorship.


The way our federal prisons treat women and mothers is abhorrent. Consider these facts:

  • Just five percent of women in the world live in the U.S., but the U.S. accounts for nearly 30 percent of the world's incarcerated women. (1)
  • Nearly 80% of women incarcerated today are mothers — many of them primary caregivers and the last line of defense between their kids and the world. (2)
  • 86% of women in jail report having experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. (3) 
  • Women are the fastest growing segment of the American prison population, with the number of incarcerated women growing from 26,378 in 1980 to more than 215,000 in 2014. (4) 

It’s absurd that we need to fight for these basic human rights. This bill has a greater chance of making it through the Senate to become law if it has support from both parties. Let’s get that support for the women in prison [and the children they are carrying] who are suffering [from undue stress and indignity during childbirth].

In solidarity,
Stephen & Kathleen Gyllenhaal, IN UTERO 

"We, the undersigned, encourage Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) to join Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in co-sponsorship of The Dignity For Incarcerated Women Act (S-1524). This bill, and the women that it will protect, deserve nothing less than our full commitment to making this Bill a Law."

*Want to do more? Email if you or your org can help us spread the word about this bill.

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