Maria Pettolina

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The population in women’s prisons in the United States has been rapidly increasing. This increase has also brought attention to the number of pregnancies and births that occur in a prison setting each year. In the United States, national standards have been developed by experts in obstetrics and gynecology, but currently, state prisons have varying policies and programs for pregnant, birthing, and postpartum people which leads to a vast difference in experiences and a disparity in treatment. To better understand what the policies and programs for maternity in prison are and how they measure up to national standards, the present study aims to identify the policies and programs state prisons are adopting, in reference to pregnancy and compare them to the national and international standards. Data were collected from ten state prisons using their Department of Corrections’ websites and evaluated through qualitative coding to identify what United States prisons are doing to care for pregnant, birthing, and postpartum people in prison and compare to the national standards set by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. More than three-quarters of the data were missing from these websites and the recommendations of the ACOG that were not specifically about pregnancy had more data than the recommendations that were specific to pregnancy. Policies must be created that address the unique nuances of pregnancy in prison as the health and safety of prisoners is the responsibility of these facilities that house pregnant people.

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