Reproductive Health Behind Bars in California
California jails are required by law to protect the reproductive health of the people in their care. But across the state, we're seeing that accessing reproductive health care becomes a frightening and traumatic experience for incarcerated people. Our report Reproductive Health Behind Bars in California found that jails are putting people's health at risk by denying, delaying and ignoring crucial reproductive health care.
In California and across the country, we have a problem with unfair and unjust mass incarceration. It's having an especially harmful effect on poor communities and communities of color. If we're going to be locking people up at all, we need to be looking out for their health. Jails need to make concrete changes to make sure that they are meeting the reproductive health needs of the people in their care.
For instance, when jails delay abortions, deny prenatal care, withhold menstrual pads, don't allow a breastfeeding mother to pump milk or fail to prevent sexual assault, they are failing to protect the people in their care from medical harm. Reproductive Health Behind Bars in California examines the current landscape of reproductive health in California jails and recommends a range of policy changes.
Below, you'll also find a Know Your Rights guide for people in need of reproductive health care in jails and a toolkit for jail administrators and advocates working to align their policies with state and federal law and medical best practice.
While we all work to address mass incarceration, jails can make great strides in improving the reproductive health of incarcerated people.