The combination of mass incarceration and inflexible foster laws leads to an extraordinary, disproportionate punishment that overwhelmingly affects poor and minority women, an expert told RH Reality Check.
During a five-month review of more than 200 lawsuits, and interviews with lawyers and public health experts, RH Reality Check found that drug treatment for incarcerated women is inconsistent and inadequate—and in some incidents, it is fatal.
RH Reality Check has identified at least a dozen instances of women experiencing miscarriages, stillbirths, and ectopic pregnancies in jails and prisons across the country, in circumstances that show a shocking lack of medical care from the professionals charged with providing it.
In this first part of RH Reality Check‘s Women, Incarcerated series, we focus on one woman’s prison time—which involved a high-risk pregnancy, forced induced labor, and shackling—to illustrate the problems that thousands of women face behind bars.
“The IWF has never taken a stance on abortion,” executive director Sabrina Schaeffer wrote in an email to RH Reality Check. Certainly, that is IWF’s public position. But RHRC has found that the IWF’s behind-the-scenes relationship with anti-choice groups contradicts what its spokespeople say.
As state legislative sessions gear up for what could be one of the worst years on record for reproductive rights, anti-choice lawmakers across the country have in recent weeks filed barrages of laws that would restrict access to safe and legal abortion. Many of these laws are identical, or nearly so, to laws that have repeatedly failed in the same states where they are being reintroduced.
The emails show Texas’ key consultant putting words into the mouths of the state’s so-called expert witnesses, attempting to persuade them to selectively exclude data that did not match his anti-choice bias, and, in one case, walking extremely close to the line of outright ghostwriting what were supposed to be independent reports.
Why are states continuing to pass abortion restrictions based partly on erroneous theories that abortion harms women? And why are state attorneys general calling as expert witnesses some of the very people who proffered these spurious notions to state legislatures in the first place?
The issues might have changed, but the techniques now widely used by conservatives to distort science and, with it, public policy, remain the same.
Once a legislature accepts bogus facts, a larger problem can arise: Courts will frequently defer to the factual findings of state legislatures, which provides a gaping loophole for junk science to wend its way into judicial decisions all the way up to the Supreme Court.