Protect the Rights of Incarcerated Women to Access Reproductive Health Care
In 2008, over 200,000 women were incarcerated in prisons and jails in the United States. Approximately 100,000 of these women were being held in local jails. Incarcerated women not only have the same reproductive health care needs as the general population, but are at increased risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and unplanned pregnancy and are more likely than the unincarcerated population to come from medically underserved communities.
While prisons are governed at the federal and state levels, the county jail system is governed at the local level, meaning that health care provision in jails varies widely, has little central oversight, and leaves crucial decisions about health care provision to administrators’ discretion.
Local Recommendations:Localities often have broad discretion to determine whether and how women incarcerated in local jails will be treated with regard to reproductive, sexual, and maternal health care. Women entering local jails are more likely to need health care and support services. Local communities must come together to provide services and information to incarcerated women.
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