It is estimated that four percent of incarcerated women are pregnant when they enter custody. Most of the corrections facilities in Minnesota are not equipped to house pregnant women, and given their high likelihood of medical and social risk factors, many incarcerated pregnant women may be at high risk for poor health outcomes.
After passing a bill to address this disparity last spring, an advisory committee created by the legislature recommends lawmakers consider providing additional support to incarcerated pregnant and postpartum women. The initial bill established regulations on the use of restraints and mandated pregnancy tests for inmates, among other policy changes. It was a major improvement in standard of care, but more can be done, said committee lead Rebecca Shlafer, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School.