Pregnant woman gives birth alone in Tennessee jail cell

Pregnant woman gives birth alone in Tennessee jail cell

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A pregnant woman gave birth to her child alone in a Tennessee jail cell after she sought medical help, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said. 

The woman and the baby were in stable condition and under hospital care as of Tuesday night, authorities said. Officials have not shared an explanation for why the woman was not brought to a hospital until after she’d given birth. Those who give birth while detained are usually brought to a hospital during the birthing process, according to non-governmental organization Penal Reform International.

The woman, who was housed in a medical pod at the Montgomery County Jail, notified a deputy of a medical concern around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, officials said. A licensed practical nurse arrived within a few minutes after the deputy contacted medical staff.

The nurse assessed the pregnant woman and left the cell to consult with others, authorities said. A short time later, a registered nurse conducted a follow-up assessment. 

The medical staff left the cell and ordered some additional tests. Deputies also continued to check on the woman in labor. 

At 12:41 p.m., just over an hour after the woman had asked for help, a deputy discovered the woman had given birth in her cell, officials said. The deputy helped the woman while jail medical staff and Emergency Medical Services were alerted. The woman and baby were both taken to the hospital. 

Several women in the past have sued after giving birth in jail cells. In a 2018 Denver incident, a woman said her pleas for help were ignored for five hours. A woman in Maryland in 2021 also said she was forced to give birth birth alone in a cell. 

In the U.S., the First Step Act of 2018 requires the Bureau of Justice Statistics to collect data on pregnancy outcomes in federal prisons, but this does not apply to state prisons and jails, such as the one in Montgomery County where the woman in Tennessee gave birth on Sunday.

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