HELL. NO. To Shackling Pregnant Women, JESUS CHRIST.
Earlier this month, BuzzFeed brought us yet another disgusting development in the New Cruelty: Pregnant women in Border Patrol and ICE detention were miscarrying after being shackled, sometimes across their bellies, because that's how the "Pro-Life" Trump adminstration is. In a fairly quick turn-around for legislation following up on an outrage uncovered by the media, Democratic women in both the House and Senate have introduced bills to end the practice. They're going with the classic: HELL. NO.
The BuzzFeed piece is horrific, detailing how women were ignored in detention facilities even as they were clearly miscarrying. Four women described
their CBP and ICE-contracted jailers as unwilling or unable to respond to medical emergencies, and recounted an incident of physical abuse from CBP officers who knew they were dealing with a pregnant woman. Those descriptions were backed by interviews with five legal aid workers, four medical workers, and two advocates who work with ICE detainees.
The incidents happened at several different detention centers, and Americans wondered just how the hell this was happening. This is where we shift the tone from horrified to HELL NO: Among those who said this would not stand was US Senator Patty Murray of Washington. Murray, along with 23 Democratic co-sponsors, introduced the The Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act in the Senate last week. Among the co-sponsors are senators Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and even some menfolk like Cory Booker of New Jersey and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania (but not just them). No Republicans just yet, what a surprise.
Over in the House, members of the Appropriations Committee added a prohibition on the practice to an appropriations bill for Homeland Security; it passed on a voice vote with no opposition. That measure was introduced by Massachussetts Democrat Katherine Clark, and in addition to ending the shackling of pregnant women, it also would stop ICE's destruction of records documenting abuse of detainees, which the ACLU warned about last year.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who smuggled her own adorable newborn anchor baby onto the Senate floor earlier this year, is another cosponsor. In a press release, Duckworth notes Congress is playing catch-up with the states on this issue. In May, Duckworth's home state of Illinois passed a bill banning law enforcement in the state from shackling pregnant women accused of nonviolent crimes, because for chrissake it's dangerous for pregnant women.
Beyond banning shackling during any phase of pregnancy, the Senate's bill would also mandate DHS to return to the Obama-era policy of setting a court date for pregnant migrants and releasing them, unless the DHS secretary can show a reason the woman is a danger to herself and others. Any women detained would also have to be held in the "least restrictive means of detention."
Gee, that sounds dangerously like good prenatal care. Is that still legal in US America? Maybe it'll catch on -- that would be a hell of a good motivation to retake the House and the Senate. Just imagine how triggered "Fox and Friends" would be!
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.