Rep. Richard DeBolt’s bill to help pregnant women in jail and prison approved by House
The House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that would allow access to volunteer maternity services for women in county jails or prison.
House Bill 2016, introduced by 20th District Rep. Richard DeBolt, would give volunteer midwives and doulas access to jails and prisons in order to provide assistance to pregnant inmates before, during and after childbirth.
DeBolt's proposal requires reasonable accommodations be made for volunteer midwives and doulas to meet with, and care for, expectant mothers, and those who have already given birth within the last six weeks. In addition, volunteers would be granted access to inmates relevant health care information.
“This isn't a new concept. Midwives and doula's have been helping pregnant women for centuries,” continued DeBolt. “It's important we allow inmates access to the benefits of these volunteer services to help ease the difficulty of being pregnant in circumstances that are far from normal.”
Midwives and doulas are trained to provide physical and informational support to women throughout pregnancy and after childbirth. Midwives have additional medical training and can perform regular exams through the course of pregnancy and after childbirth. They are also able to instruct women on the emotional issues that follow birth, like postpartum depression, which is often exacerbated when the mother and newborn live apart.
Trained midwives and doula's help with prenatal and postpartum education, breastfeeding assistance, and parenting education. Doula's specialize in providing mother's with the support and information they need through pregnancy, labor and delivery.
“Inmates who are pregnant, or have given birth, in jail and prison face many challenges. This is one way we can help them,” said DeBolt. “Volunteers trained in providing these types of maternity services would be allowed to meet with inmates who are pregnant or have recently given birth.”
House Bill 2016 now heads to the Senate for further consideration.