Across the country, pregnant women suffer undue health risks when they are shackled before, during, and while recovering from labor. In Maryland, handcuffs, leg shackles and belly chains are used to restrain pregnant women during transport and medical appointments. Even during active labor, women and girls incarcerated in Maryland may endure the pain and restricted movement from having their wrists and ankles chained to the rails of the hospital bed. Maryland law does not even require correctional staff to consider input from medical staff when deciding whether to shackle a pregnant woman. Shackling pregnant women is permitted not only in Maryland's state-run adult and juvenile facilities, but also in local detention centers where women are held awaiting trial, before they have been proven guilty of any crime.
Leading health and law enforcement authorities oppose the practice of shackling because it poses serious health risks to the pregnant woman and her baby. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association are all on record against the practice.  In addition, the American Correctional Association, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Marshals Service have all adopted policies to limit shackling of pregnant women.
Moreover, federal courts have expressly condemned the practice of shackling pregnant women in labor as violating the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. 
The need to ensure the safety and security of the public is important. But the evidence shows that as a practical matter, shackling pregnant women and girls in the name of safety and security is almost never justified. It is well documented that most incarcerated women have been convicted of nonviolent offenses. Supervision by correctional officers provides sufficient protection to the degree any risk exists. In fact, as ACOG notes, “no escape attempts have been reported among pregnant incarcerated women who were not shackled during childbirth.”  The significant health risks of shackling are far greater than any risk to public safety.
In recognition of the harms of shackling pregnant women, a growing number of states prohibit or restrict shackling of pregnant prisoners.  We urge state lawmakers to act now on behalf of women here in Maryland, by prohibiting the practice of shackling pregnant women and girls during transport, labor, delivery and recovery.
ENDORSEMENTS AS OF 2/20/13
American Civil Liberties Union, Women's Law Center of Maryland, Inc., Public Justice Center , Power Inside, Marian House, Inc., Alternative Directions, Inc., Health Care for the Homeless, Turn Around, Inc. Hopkins Feminists at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore Student Harm Reduction Coalition at JHU, Women Involved in Learning & Leadership at UMBC, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Different Avenues, Inc., Women With A Vision, Inc., Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Real Cost of Prison Project, Rachel Roth, Ph.D., Soros Justice Fellow, Author, Arline Pacht, Retired Administrative Law Judge, Aimee Pohl, Janine Holc, Ph.D., Anne C. Lytle, Therapist, Zosha Stuckey, Ph.D., Elizabeth DuVerlie, MPH, Brea Angelena Best, Rachel Crosen, Joanna Gervais, Lauren Linn, Natanya Robinowitz, Mary Beth Hastings, Sarah Tooley, Mona Lynch, Ph.D., Karen Starr, Stacy Erenberg, Theodore Alan Zook, Hadar Aviram, Mia Frederick, Spearit, Spencer Wayne Roszelle, and Christian Marie Campo.
TO ADD YOUR ENDORSEMENT GO TO: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3RMSM8Q
Your endorsements and this statement of opposition will be forwarded to Maryland lawmakers and the broader community. For more information on Maryland’s effort to end shackling of pregnant women contact: Sara Love at the ACLU of Maryland at 703-963-2710 or email: Stop Shackling Pregnant Women in Maryland at firstname.lastname@example.org and join the Facebook page: “Stop Shackling Pregnant Women in Maryland.”
 Health Care for Pregnant and Postpartum Incarcerated Women and Adolescent Females, Comm. Op. No. 511, at 3(Am. Coll. Obstetricians & Gynecologists 2011); RES. 203: Shackling of Pregnant Women in Labor (Am. Med. Ass’n 2010); Standards for Health Services in Correctional Institutions 108 (Am. Public Health Ass’n 2003).
 Nelson v. Correctional Medical Services, 583 F.3d 522, 533 (8th Cir. 2009); Women Prisoners of D.C. v. District of Columbia, 93 F.3d 910, 918, 936 (D.C. Cir. 1996); Brawley v. State of Washington, 712 F.Supp.2d 1208, 1221 (W.D. Wash 2010); and Villegas v. Metropolitan Government of Davidson County, 789 F.Supp.2d 895, 919 (M.D. TN 2011).
 Health Care for Pregnant and Postpartum Incarcerated Women and Adolescent Females, Comm. Op. No. 511, at 3.
 Eighteen states (AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, HI, ID, IL, LA, PA, NM, NV, NY, RI, TX, VT, WA and WV) have laws prohibiting or restricting the shackling of pregnant prisoners.