• Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022

The Federal Prisons Agency is reviewing its reproductive care options for inmates

ByJanice K. Merrill

Jul 11, 2022

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling repealing the nearly half-century-long constitutional right to abortion, the federal prisons agency is examining possible options to protect the reproductive health of its inmates.

The Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade on June 24 and since then, the White House and various federal agencies have worked to protect abortion and other reproductive health services where they legally can. Abortion is now banned in at least 10 states and restricted in four, with more bans and restrictions expected in the coming weeks, according to a tracker from The New York Times.

“The Bureau of Prisons is considering all potential policy options to protect the reproductive health of inmates in our care and custody,” said BOP spokesperson Emery Nelson. government executive In Monday. “While we decline to comment further, we may suggest you visit our ‘Female Offenders’ page on our public site herefor up-to-date information on the custody and care of women offenders, including recently released versions of the BOP Women Offender Handbook.

Women make up about 7% of the federal prison population who are housed in 29 facilities, according to the BOP website. The manual, which was updated in May 2021asserts that inmates have the responsibility to decide whether they want to have the child or have an abortion.

“The warden will offer to provide each pregnant inmate with medical, religious and social counseling to help her make the decision to carry the pregnancy to term or have an elective abortion,” the manual states. “If an inmate chooses to have an abortion, she must sign a statement to that effect. The inmate must sign a written statement acknowledging that she has had the opportunity to receive the advice and information requested in this policy. » Once the declarations have been submitted and received by the appropriate parties, the clinical director organizes the abortion.

“The office assumes all costs associated with the abortion procedure only when the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus is carried to term, or in the event of rape or incest,” the manual states, due of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion with a few exceptions, including rape or life-threatening conditions. “In all other cases, non-core funds must be used to pay for any abortion procedure, otherwise the planned abortion may not be performed. In all cases, however, whether the office pays for the abortion or not, the office may expend funds to escort the inmate to a facility outside the facility to receive the procedure.

The manual notes that BOP staff who do not want to be involved in facilitating the abortion process should notify their supervisors and then the supervisors should not order them to participate.

Shortly after this story was published, BOP released a updated version of the manual, dated 8 July. The only major difference is that there is a crossed out line: “Personnel should know and be guided by applicable federal and state laws and regulations.”

A BOP official said government executive, “This Policy has been under review for some time for various reasons and any future changes will be posted on our public website at the link.” The official also said it is still correct that the agency is “examining all potential policy options to protect the reproductive health of detainees in our care and custody.”

Prisons and jails ‘present unique barriers to abortion access’, for reasons such as financial costs, geographical limitations, people who are unaware of abortion policies and staff refuse abortion requestswrote Evelyn McCoy and Azhar Gulaid of the Urban Institute in May after Policy reports a leaked draft opinion from the deer repeal. They referenced a 2017 article by Vice.

Further, “mass incarceration in the United States disproportionately affects communities of color, especially black communities who have experienced centuries of disinvestment, over-policing and over-incarceration that stem from the legacy of slavery. and Jim Crow,” McCoy and Gulaid wrote. “Therefore, violations of the reproductive rights of incarcerated people particularly affect black people because they experience high rates of maternal mortality.”

They also noted that people of all gender identities can become pregnant and possibly seek an abortion and that “LGBTQ+ people have specific and significant reproductive health needs before and during incarceration.”

Updated July 12, 10:30 a.m.: Shortly after this story was published, the Federal Bureau of Prisons released an updated version of its Women Offender Handbook. This story has been updated to reflect that.