Intersection between Incarceration and Reproductive Health:Lack of Access for Incarcerated Pregnant Women in the United States


  • Lauren Sulaiman John Jay College


Since the 1980s, the number of women and girls within the criminal justice system has increased drastically, reaching over 200,000 women and girls in 2015. Although this number has slowly declined in recent years, the female incarcerated population remains relatively high compared to fifty years ago. In this paper, I investigate a population in the criminal justice system that is highly overlooked in research, incarcerated pregnant women. I highlight how incarceration influences their access to reproductive health services during their pregnancy. Through the examination of existing research publications and commentaries on the incarceration of women and reproductive health, I highlight their experiences with prenatal care, abortions, and shackling, to underscore how incarceration shapes the experiences of pregnant women in United States prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities. Additionally, my paper will highlight the gaps in the existing literature on incarceration and reproductive health, and encourage more intersectional approaches to understanding the realities of incarcerated women.