Rep. Richard DeBolt’s bill providing pregnant inmates access to volunteer midwife and doula services signed into law

Rep. Richard DeBolt’s bill to allow volunteer midwives and doulas to provide assistance to incarcerated pregnant inmates in county jails and state prisons was signed into law Tuesday by the governor. The measure provides inmates access to volunteer maternity services before, during and after childbirth.

DeBolt, R-Chehalis, says giving inmates access to these volunteer services will ease the trauma of giving birth while behind bars.

“Many incarcerated mothers must say goodbye to their infants shortly after giving birth,” said DeBolt. “This is often traumatizing for the inmates and their babies. Midwives and doulas can help make this difficult transition easier.”

DeBolt’s bill requires reasonable accommodations be made for volunteers to meet with, and care for expectant mothers, and mothers who are up to six weeks postpartum. In addition, volunteer midwives and doulas would be granted access to the inmates’ relevant health care information.

Doulas are trained to provide physical and informational support to women throughout pregnancy, delivery and after childbirth. Midwives have additional medical training and can perform regular exams throughout the course of a woman’s pregnancy and after childbirth.

According to the 20th District lawmaker, midwives and doulas also teach women how to be better mothers. DeBolt says that in addition to their other roles, they often give parental advice and instruction to new mothers on how to care for their infants

“If you can help an inmate understand that she can be a better mother, you’re giving her tools to change the course of her life for the better,” continued DeBolt. “This bill is one way we can offer incarcerated moms a bit of hope these situations can be turned around and they will be reunited with their children.”


Washington State House Republican Communications