AMA: House of Delegates Backs Ban on Shackling Inmates in Labor

CHICAGO -- The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a resolution to prohibit the shackling of women during labor -- a practice outlawed in seven states but still used in some prisons and hospitals for inmates who are giving birth.

The resolution was introduced by a group of ObGyns along with several state medical societies and adopted by the AMA's full House of Delegates on Tuesday by a voice vote.

California, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Vermont, and Colorado all have laws discouraging the practice of shackling female inmates during labor. The AMA's resolution calls on the doctors' group to write draft legislation that other states could use as a model to pass their own antishackling laws.

Shackling can refer to a number of restraint methods, including wrapping a chain around the inmate's waist and cuffing her hands to the chain, or just cuffing the woman's ankle to the hospital bed.

Doctors speaking in support of the resolution said the use of restraints during labor is not in line with the ethics of the medical profession.

"Shackling women in labor runs counter to our values," said delegate Dr. Erin Tracy, an Ob/Gyn from Stoneham, Mass.

"It's dehumanizing," she commented during a Sunday hearing of the AMA's legislative committee. Female inmates "need to be provided adequate compassionate care."

The resolution refers to the practice as "barbaric" and "medically hazardous" and calls for the AMA to support language that no restraints of any kind should be used on an inmate who is in labor, delivering her baby, or during recuperation unless there is a "compelling" reason to believe she poses serious harm to herself or others, is a flight risk, and "cannot be reasonable constrained by other means."

"Certainly in cases where public health is at risk ... it's necessary to have appropriate restraints," Tracy added.

The AMA resolution also states that correctional facilities, detention centers, or local jails should use the "least restrictive restraints necessary" when an inmate is in the second or third trimester of her pregnancy.

States that have passed antishackling laws haven't reported any safety issues by not restraining pregnant inmates, said Dr. Cynthia Goto, an Ob/Gyn from Honolulu. Women in the midst of labor are unlikely to be able to overpower guards and escape from the delivery room, Goto commented.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10934689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10934689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10934689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10934689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10934689. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10934689.
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Ebola patients Nina Pham, left, Dr. Craig Spencer, center, and Amber Vinson are seen in undated file photos.
Courtesy Pham Family | LinkedIn | Obtained by ABC
PHOTO: Television personalities Mama June and Honey Boo Boo are seen in this, June 11, 2014, file photo.
Douglas Gorenstein/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images
PHOTO: Overall winner for the Wildlife Photography of the Year 2014, The last great picture by Michael Nick Nichols.
Michael Nick Nichols/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014
PHOTO: A New York City subway train is pictured in this stock image.
Andrew A. Smith/Getty Images