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Gov. David A. Paterson

Executive Chamber

State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

RE: NYS 1290

Dear Gov. Paterson,

The horrific practice of shackling pregnant prisoners must be halted immediately.

Meghan Road recently wrote that: 

"Pregnant women who are shackled are at risk of injury during transportation to medical appointments, can suffer added pain during delivery, and may be deprived of appropriate care during examinations and delivery. 

Officials from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have opposed shackling on the basis that 'physical restraints have interfered with the ability of physicians to safely practice medicine by reducing their ability to assess and evaluate the physical condition of the mother and the fetus ... thus, overall putting the lives of women and unborn children at risk.'  

The risks are heightened by the fact that the pregnancies of women in custody are usually already high-risk because of their past medical histories, which can include substance abuse and limited access to prenatal care. In addition, the humiliation brought on by the shackling is inflicted on women who often have already suffered sexual or physical violence." 

Proclaiming that a woman in the midst of giving birth could constitute a flight risk would be laughable if it weren't actually occurring.  Treating these women so barbarically agitates underlying issues of mental and physical instability which could lead to premature deaths, damaged infants, torn and mutilated mothers, and rivals the torture practices being actively debated today.   

Gov. Paterson, do the right thing and desist this abhorrent practice immediately. We are all entitled to human dignity.