Lawsuit Claims NYPD Forced Woman to Deliver Baby While Handcuffed


In a lawsuit filed Thursday, a woman identified as Jane Doe accused police of shackling her to the bed while she gave birth to her baby in a Bronx hospital. “They handcuffed her wrists to the bed and shackled her ankles,” The New York Times reports, and it was only an hour into her labor that they removed some of the restraints. But she still “delivered the baby with her right hand still cuffed to the hospital bed.”

Since 2015 it has been illegal in New York for police to restrain pregnant women not only during labor, but also on the way to the hospital and for up to eight weeks after delivery. Yet the suit states that despite the fact that Jane Doe’s doctors told police officers about this law and that shackling her would put her in risk, the officers claimed that they were just following the rules in their department’s Patrol Guide. The woman was released from her restraints nine hours after giving birth, only after “a judge arraigned her in her hospital bed on a charge of violating a protective order.”

Despite state law, incarcerated pregnant women in New York repeatedly are put through these inhumane conditions. According to a 2015 report by the Correctional Association of New York, 23 of 27 women they surveyed who gave birth in custody of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision “were shackled at least once in violation of the law.”

As Donna Lieberman, executive director of NYCLU told the Times about Jane Doe’s case, “The fact that pregnant women and women in labor would be subject to the most draconian treatment imaginable, particularly when they stand accused of a misdemeanor, speaks volumes about the macho culture of police departments and corrections.”

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