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New directive outlines policies for pregnancies and births in prisons

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The directive expands rights for pregnant inmates to choose one non-medical person to support them as they give birth, and it allows a new mother to spend more time with a newborn before returning to prison.

A new state Department of Corrections directive outlines the rights of pregnant prison inmates to medical resources and support.

The directive expands rights for pregnant inmates to choose one non-medical person to support them as they give birth, and it allows a new mother to spend more time with a newborn before returning to prison.

“Every pregnant Michigander deserves access to a safe birth, critical maternal healthcare, and essential post-partum supports,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement released Tuesday.

Chris Gautz with the corrections department says the policy also sets new limits on the use of handcuffs and other restraints.

“Once a woman goes into labor, from the time that she starts labor, she would not be in restraints other than in very extreme circumstances,” he said.

The directive limits how long a pregnant person could be in restraints to one hour, unless the warden signs off. Restraints also won’t be used during transport, active labor, or post-partum in the hospital unless the warden approves.

The directive also expands the use of birth plans and doulas. Pregnant inmates are housed at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Washtenaw County.