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New MDOC directive outlines policies for pregnancies and births in prisons

An image of a pregnant lady lying in a hospital bed holding her tummy, with a close up on the drip in her hand
Adobe Stock

A new state Department of Corrections directive outlines the rights of pregnant prison inmates to medical resources and support.

The directive expands rights for pregnant inmates to choose one non-medical person to support them as they give birth, and it allows a new mother to spend more time with a newborn before returning to prison.

“Every pregnant Michigander deserves access to a safe birth, critical maternal health care, and essential postpartum supports,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement released Tuesday.

Chris Gautz with the corrections department said the policy also sets new limits on the use of handcuffs and other restraints.

“Once a woman goes into labor, from the time that she starts labor, she would not be in restraints other than in very extreme circumstances,” he said.

The directive limits how long a pregnant person could be in restraints to one hour, unless the warden signs off. Restraints also won’t be used during transport, active labor, or postpartum in the hospital unless the warden approves.

The directive also expands the use of birth plans and doulas. Pregnant inmates are housed at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Washtenaw County.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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