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Questions Raised About Pregnancy Care In Texas County Jails

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The number of incarcerated women in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1980 and a growing number of them are pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that 6 to 10 percent of women in correctional facilities are pregnant. And because incarcerated women often struggle with substance abuse or mental illness, they tend to have more complicated, higher-risk pregnancies that require more attention

However jails and prisons often neglect the additional needs and treatment of pregnant inmates. In Texas, 300 to 500 pregnant women are booked into county jails each month, and dozens gave birth while in custody last year.

Some women report they are not getting prenatal care or even enough food. One woman in the Travis County jail last year testified she was shackled to her hospital bed while delivering her baby.

Alexa Garcia-Ditta is the health care reporter for the Texas Observer. You can find her story The Truth About How Pregnant Women Are Treated in Texas County Jails on the Observer’s website.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi