Reproductive Healthcare for Female Inmates Posted on December 31, 2021 by Brian Westbrook Reproductive-healthcare-for-female-inmatesDownload
A few thoughts on reproductive health care while incarcerated…
Reproductive health and contraception, have been largely overlooked or seen as unnecessary expenditures.
*The basis for this is an understanding that the need for contraception is obviated by the facility rules prohibiting sexual activity – between offenders / staff / staff & offenders
The United States incarceration of female inmates has increased
*However, the fact is less relevant that the necessity for appropriate health care and appropriate policy
The carceral system is not the only environment where women have access to reproductive care.
*There are a number of access points in community that are most often used by the population at risk for incarceration. Family planning, community free clinics and other programs.
The corrections system in a unique position to address all public health needs of this population. While there may be studies and data that support offenders’ desire to begin or continue contraception while incarcerated.
*However, practical difficulties arise from inadequate funding, policy and procedure designed to limit available health care – medically necessary vs medically indicated; and administrative approach of the facility and political oversight.
Studies of offender wishes to initiate contraception while incarcerated; while germane does not impact the fiscal or administrative / political approach.
*A change will require modification of correction standards and a change in funding.
The evidence that a large percentage of incarcerated females do not wish to become pregnant.
*Should result in a change in behavior. No matter the social, political, religious or other beliefs – the most effective method for a reduction in (undesired) pregnancy is not participating in intercourse. The common argument involves rape and incest – which results in a pregnancy rate of 5%. Abortions resulting from rape comprise 1% and incest 0.5%.
The right to have access and autonomy over one’s reproductive health, should be available to all women regardless of incarceration status.
*While this is a laudable approach it does not consider that the average length of stay in jails is 11 – 14 days (with exceptions) and imprisoned women are provided appropriate care in most situations. That autonomy should begin with a decision to participate and / or take precautions
Direct and indirect costs, estimated over 90 billion dollars annually (2017).
*The costs presented, though real, are not the result of incarceration or health care while incarcerated. Rather they are the result of life situations / society and choices by the individual. Offenders are products of their environment and their response to it. Solutions for that are rarely found in/ provided by ‘correction’ facilities. The most hopeful change seems to be coming from increased efforts in the area of discharge planning.
For the most part; jails will continue ‘birth control’ [personal note – a misnomer should be called pregnancy prevention] for short stays and when used for other medical indications. *The later is dependent upon the efforts of health care staff to obtain community records.
Despite the comments (preceded by *) appropriate health care for all offenders should always be provided – with compassion
Alfred, Thank you for providing an expanded perspective on this topic. Fresh insight is always welcomed and beneficial for further understanding.
Great topic, indeed! The content is interesting. For me, even inmates have their needs to be healthy. Let them feel that they still value themselves as a human.