Bill would ban shackling pregnant Ohio prisoners delivering babies

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Shackling or handcuffing pregnant or postpartum women would be prohibited if a bill sponsored by Kettering Republican state Sen. Peggy Lehner becomes law.

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Handcuffing or restraining women during pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum recovery by police, courts or prisons would be an interference of civil rights, according to Senate Bill 18. Putting pregnant or postpartum women in solitary confinement would also be prohibited.

The legislation provides for exceptions in cases where the woman presents a serious threat or flight risk.

Restraints would be allowed if the official notifies the doctor or health care professional treating the woman. The professional may object to the restraints if it poses a risk of physical harm to the woman or baby.

The American Medical Association calls shackling women while they’re birthing babies “a barbaric practice that needlessly inflicts excruciating pain and humiliation.”

In written testimony, Lehner and co-sponsor state Sen. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, said shackling pregnant women puts them at risk of falling and doing so during labor and delivery can delay medical care.

“This legislation is the first step to ensuring incarcerated women in Ohio are given the dignity, health and safety they deserve,” the senators said.

In January, President Donald Trump signed bipartisan criminal justice legislation that includes a prohibition of shacking pregnant prisoners in federal custody.