MA lawyer plans shackled childbirth in protest of practice in prisons

In my latest article for Colorlines, I write about a Massachusetts lawyer, Rebecca Brodie, who is planning on giving birth to her third child in December, in shackles.

Rebecca Brodie sits in her suburban Massachusetts home, talking on the phone with me while her family member sits nearby, filming the interview. The oldest female correctional facility in the United States, MCI-Framingham, is just a short eight-minute drive away. “When I conceived my third child earlier this year, it really hit home for me because everywhere I go I pass the prison,” Brodie explained. “I have all these choices and opportunities: who do I want in the room with me, do I want a water birth, or a home birth? Obviously the incarcerated women can’t make these choices.”

The proximity of the women’s prison and Brodie’s pro-bono legal work with incarcerated women is what inspired the protest she’s planning for December, when her third child is born. If all goes according to plan, she’ll be laboring and delivering her baby in metal restraints that restrict her arms and legs. She’s planning to simulate the same conditions that many incarcerated pregnant women face when delivering in state prisons and jails, including some of the women housed at the prison right by her home.

Brodie’s protest may be the most shocking, but she’s part of a growing movement against the practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant women. A bill is currently sitting on Governor Brown’s desk in California, which would ban the practice during transport (it’s already banned during labor). Thirty six states have no laws against the practice, despite numerous medical associations coming out against the practice, as well as legal decisions implying that it’s unconstitutional.

You can read the full article here.

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