The Reproductive Health Act says that all people, including those in prison and jail, have the right to make decisions about their own bodies and reproductive health, including the fundamental right to use or refuse reproductive healthcare.

This means that when you’re in prison or jail, you still have the right to make decisions about your own body. These rights are a little different depending on whether you are in a state prison, Cook County Jail, or a different county jail. No matter where you are, jails and prisons can’t prevent you from making decisions about your own body, like whether to take birth control pills and whether to continue a pregnancy or have an abortion.

What do these rights mean?

Having the rights listed here means that jails and prisons can’t punish or threaten you for making decisions about your body. It also means that if you have a right to a service or medications, the jail or prison has to provide you with that service or medications (like prenatal care and contraceptives).

If your reproductive rights have been violated, please contact ehirsch@aclu-il.org.

 

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

Pregnancy and Related Healthcare

Q.Pregnancy and Related Healthcare
A.

 

  • Right to prenatal care.
    • This can include things like getting prenatal vitamins and regular checkups with a doctor to make sure you are healthy, and track any possible complications with your pregnancy.
    • This can also include the right to more food, including nutritious food, while you are pregnant.
    • You also have the right to medical care if your pregnancy ends in a miscarriage.
    • Note: If you are in a county jail you may have to pay a copay for these services.
    • If you’re pregnant, you have a right to educational programming about pregnancy and childbirth.
    • If you’re pregnant, you have the right to a bed that is 3 feet from the floor or lower.
    • If you’re pregnant or gave birth in the past month, you have the right not to be put in solitary confinement unless you are a harm to yourself, your baby, or another person, or will attempt escape.
      • Right to make decisions about how you want to give birth.
        • This can include deciding whether to have a c-section or whether to get an epidural or not.
        • You have the right to refuse induced labor, even if the prison wants you to do it for their convenience.
        • You also have the right to consent to things like vaginal or cervical checks, and episiotomy. This means that doctors should talk to you and check with you before they do these things.
      • If you leave the facility to go to the hospital to give birth, you have the right not to have restraints of any kind during transport. This includes handcuffs, shackles, and any other restraints.
      • While you’re at the hospital to give birth, you have the right not to have a correctional officer in your hospital room – they must wait outside.
      • During labor, you cannot be shackled or be put in leg irons under any circumstances.
      • After you give birth, you have the right to have your baby stay with you for 72 hours unless a doctor says it isn’t safe.
        • For this period of time, the prison or jail must provide you with diapers, and anything else you need to care for your infant.
      • Right to breastfeed your baby during visits to the prison.

        If You’re Incarcerated in a State (or IDOC) Prison, you have the following rights:

        • If you’re pregnant, you have the right to be screened for eligibility for the Moms and Babies Program, a program that allows moms to spend time with their babies while they are still incarcerated.  

          If You’re in a County Jail other than Cook County, you have the following rights:

          • If you’re pregnant and it’s close to your due date, you have the right to a hearing to determine whether your being in jail is necessary to protect the public. (725 ILC 5/110-5.2)

          If you’re in Cook County Jail, you have the following rights:

          • If you’re pregnant and it’s close to your due date, you have the right to a hearing to determine whether your being in jail is necessary to protect the public. (725 ILC 5/110-5.2)
          • If you’re pregnant you have the right not to be shackled at any time, unless the jail believes you are likely to try to escape, or unless a doctor or other health staff asks for you to be in restraints to protect you or your pregnancy.
            • Even if the jail does use restraints, they can’t use leg irons, shackles, or waist shackles.
          • If you have just given birth, you may only be restrained by handcuffs at the front of your body. If a doctor or nurse asks the officer to remove the handcuffs, they must do it immediately.

          Abortion and Miscarriage Care

          Q.Abortion and Miscarriage Care
          A.
          • Right to choose whether to have an abortion or continue your pregnancy

            • Call the National Abortion Fund at 1-800-772-9100 to get help to pay for your abortion. You have a right to accept funds from outside sources if you need help paying for an abortion.

          Other Reproductive Healthcare

          Q.Other Reproductive Healthcare
          A.
          • Right to reproductive healthcare, including regular pap smears and other reproductive healthcare

            • Note: If you are in a county jail, rather than a state or IDOC facility, you may have to pay a copay for these services.

          • Right to access to enough menstrual products (things like pads and tampons)

          • Right to use birth control and choose the method that is best for you