Legislation would establish care standards for treatment of pregnant women in custody and ensure access to health care and nutritional services

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the treatment of pregnant women in custody. The Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act would establish care standards for how federal facilities treat pregnant and postpartum women in custody, while ensuring they have access to critical health care and nutritional services. 

“It’s critical that we provide pregnant women in custody with the prenatal and postpartum care they need,” said Klobuchar. “By instituting federal standards for the treatment of pregnant women and ensuring they have reliable access to medical care and appropriate nutrition, our bipartisan legislation will improve the health and safety of these women and their babies.” 

“Incarcerated women deserve access to quality health services, including maternity care, which can help prevent maternal health complications and ensure that newborns have a healthy start in life,” said Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would require prisons to provide appropriate accommodations and resources as well as implement training programs to support expectant mothers.”

The Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act would:

  1. Set care standards for how the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the U.S. Marshall Service (USMS) treat pregnant and postpartum inmates; 
  2. Require federal facilities to provide pregnant inmates access to medical and mental health services as well as education about nutrition, parental rights, and lactation;  
  3. Put limits on when pregnant women can be placed in restrictive housing, and ban the BOP and USMS from placing pregnant women in solitary confinement during the third trimester; 
  4. Require the BOP to evaluate pregnant women to determine if their pregnancy is high-risk and establish requirements for the treatment of women whose pregnancies are high risk;
  5. Authorize research into the health needs of pregnant inmates, including by commissioning a study of state and local protections for pregnant inmates and requiring that data on the number of complaints filed by pregnant inmates be publicly available; and 
  6. Require the BOP and USMS to develop guidelines and training related to housing, transporting, and feeding pregnant women.

Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) lead companion legislation in the House of Representatives.