It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that placing ankle, wrist, and even belly chains and restraints on a pregnant woman is dangerous to the health and safety of a woman and her pregnancy.

Shackling pregnant women is widely condemned by a variety of medical associations, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and human rights organizations as risky, cruel, and unusual. But as incredible as it sounds, that’s exactly what has been happening to a number of Iowa’s incarcerated pregnant women–and the ACLU of Iowa is working to stop it.

We have worked alongside a broad coalition of health care, human rights, corrections, and faith organizations to pass a bill to ban this barbaric, dangerous practice.

Stalled Attempts With Similar Bills

Efforts to ban this dangerous practice have been underway for at least five years. A similar bill was dismissed in 2012 because the DOC said shackling didn’t happen. But now both the ACLU of Iowa and The Des Moines Register have been able to collect testimony and even photos that document the practice.

A policy change within the DOC, while important, is insufficient. The DOC’s policy is far from adequate. For example, DOC policy actually requires “full restraints” to be used in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, even after DOC knows a woman is pregnant. A law that bans this dangerous, unnecessary practice is needed.