Here’s a post from Pete…what do you think–stratified motherhood at it’s worst?
I came across the article “Pregnancy and Prisons: Women’s Health and Rights Behind Bars” which had links to several articles, one at
rhrealitycheck.org talking about how, due to a law suit brought by a woman who gave birth in prison, Arkansas no longer shackles women
while they are giving birth.
Another link is to an article, “Pregnancy in Prison: A Personal Story.” This is the story of Kebby Warner, a woman who gave birth in
prison, how she was only allowed three days with her baby after she gave birth and how the state terminated her parental rights because
she was in prison.
Looking at just these two stories, it’s clear that the intersection of gender, class, and race make motherhood more difficult for some (less
valued) mothers. Also, the comparisons between the treatment of pregnant women/mothers in US prisons and the treatment of those in
some other countries highlights the highly negative attitude in the US towards prisoners in general and their basically punitive treatment.
At the end, the original article directly asks several provocative questions:
“With pregnant women around the world not receiving health care of any sort, should additional efforts be made to benefit women who are in
prison? Is there a difference between mothers serving terms in correctional facilities and those outside? Should they be treated differently?”
I more or less reject the assumptions underlying the questions. We (the world as a whole) have more than enough resources to take care of
most, if not all, people’s health and well being. What is at issue is, what and who is/are valued. People vs. profits, punishment vs.
rehabilitation, women vs. men, us vs. the other, etc., which, interestingly enough, seems to be one of the overarching themes of
The original article is from a series for the site “Conversations for a Better World” (“a shared blog on population, gender, and
health”). At first glance this looks to be a really good site with an international perspective. Although, I haven’t read any more of the articles very critically yet, so I’m not sure how I really feel about it. One more thing to note is that the site is run by the Untied Nations Population Fund.  “Pregnancy and Prisons: Women’s Health and Rights Behind Bars” –
http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/10/06/in-labor-and-in-chains  Conversations for a Better World –
http://www.conversationsforabetterworld.com/  Untied Nations Population Fund – http://www.unfpa.org/public/