Stop Detaining Pregnant Immigrant Women

A pregnant person holds hands with someone while sitting down. CW: Discussion of infant loss
This week, Senator Murray, along with 24 cosponsors, introduced the Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act. The bill would reinstate the presumption of releasing pregnant women from immigration detention and also provides that women cannot be physically restrained while in labor. Pretty basic, non-controversial stuff, one would think.
And yet, it seems that even fundamentally basic principles regarding compassionate care for pregnant women are a no-go with the Trump Administration. Senator Murray first introduced this bill last year summer in response to the Trump Administration rescinding an Obama-era policy that released pregnant women from immigration detention. In explaining the Trump Administration’s change to the policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that it was defaulting to detaining pregnant women in order to “better align with the President’s Executive Order [requiring a harmful, massive expansion of immigration enforcement].”
It should be obvious why it is bad to detain pregnant women and to use restraints on them when they are in labor. But, just so we are clear, the experts – like American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Family Physicians – have strongly opposed the Trump Administration’s decision to detain pregnant women, explaining that it “puts the health of women and adolescents and their pregnancies at great risk.” These experts have reminded the Administration that “[i]t has been documented that while in immigration detention facilities, pregnant women and adolescents experience poor access to medical care,” and thus have urged the Administration to “focus on securing access to adequate, timely, evidence-based, and comprehensive medical care by medical providers trained to care for pregnant women and adolescents.”
We couldn’t agree more. And with news of a young woman delivering a stillborn baby; kids dying in detention; and scores of pregnant women being held in detention (“from October 2017 through August 2018, ICE detained 1,655 pregnant women…Over that same period, 18 women may have experienced a miscarriage just before or while in ICE custody.”), passing Senator Murray’s bill should be a no-brainer for anyone who says they support pregnant women and their families.
On a final note, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the hypocrisy of Senator Sasse, President Trump, Vice President Pence, and all of their buddies who have been railing against women and their health care providers just because they have experienced abortion later in pregnancy. These men have used their soap boxes to politicize women’s most personal experiences, in some instances retraumatizing them and their families all over again, to press a dangerous rhetoric that is based on lies.
It is downright shameful and reprehensible that these men, who can’t seem to stop talking about protecting babies, have been awfully silent on (or, in this case, actively pushing) a policy that is so harmful to pregnant women and their families.
And with that, I just leave you with how I feel about their hypocritical lies and harmful policies: