Undocumented Worker Gives Birth Shackled

Does this really happen in America? A Nashville woman was forced to give birth while chained to a hospital bed, after a sheriff stopped her for driving without a license—an offense that usually earns a ticket, not an arrest. "When I was in bed, I was begging the sheriff, 'Please let me free—at least one hand,' and he said, no, he didn't want to," the woman told a local TV station in 2008. Hers is not an isolated case, according to a Huffington Post feature sparking outrage this week. In 2009, an undocumented Arizona woman was also shackled during childbirth, and was reportedly forbidden to nurse or hold her baby until she was released from custody 72 days later. Women held for immigration-related offenses can be legally shackled during childbirth in 36 states, a reality that has alarmed human rights activists and helped inspire a movement to change state laws. “These mothers are not prosecuted criminals, but simply mothers detained for lack of documentation,” said Malika Saada Saar, executive director of The Rebecca Project’s Anti-Shackling Coalition. To help end the practice, visit the campaign’s website.