Pregnant mothers require proper care in order to ensure they can give birth to a healthy child and survive childbirth. The lack of proper medical care can put the child and mother at risk of injury or death. Mothers should not be deprived of proper care just because of their immigration status. Some members of Congress are calling for an investigation after the rate of miscarriages in ICE detention has nearly doubled.
Congress Members Calling for Miscarriage Investigation
Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas and chair of the Hispanic Caucus is one of the representatives calling for an investigation into the conditions for pregnant women in detention. “We have heard several alarming stories of pregnant women receiving inadequate medical care and even miscarrying while in DHS custody,” said Castro.
A review by the Daily Beast found that from 2017 to 2018, the number of immigrant women who have experienced a miscarriage just before or during ICE custody nearly doubled from 10 to 18. This does not include the number of women who miscarried while in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) custody.
Another House of Representatives member, Debbie Mucarse-Powell, a Democrat in Florida has called the situation “a troubling pattern of medical negligence and disregard for humanity.”
Change in Pregnant Immigrant Policy
The prior policy of ICE and Border Patrol was not to keep pregnant women in detention. However, the current administration changed the policy, ending the presumption of release for pregnant women. Under the new ICE policy, women in their 3rd trimester are not supposed to be detained. However, last year, a woman in her 27th week of pregnancy, while in custody, went into premature labor, delivering an unresponsive boy.
Homeland Security Deny There is Medical Negligence
According to a spokesperson for ICE, Lauren Mack, “Females in ICE custody receive routine, age-appropriate gynecological and obstetrical health care assessments and preventive women's health services as medically appropriate.”
ICE documents claim that, “A pregnant detainee in custody shall have access to pregnancy services including routine or specialized prenatal care, pregnancy testing, comprehensive counseling and assistance, postpartum follow up, lactation services and abortion services.”
However, many detention facilities are not operated by ICE or any government agency. Instead, detention facilities are often operated by for-profit companies who have an interest in saving money, even if it is at the expense of the health of pregnant mothers and their babies.
An investigation by the California Department of Justice found a number of problems with the medical and mental health care available at these facilities. The report stated, “common issues we found include medical record accuracy and accessibility, nurses practicing outside their legal scope of practice, superficial medical examinations, delayed or inadequate medical care, inadequate mental health staffing and services, and unsafe suicide watch and disciplinary isolation (solitary confinement) practices.”
Negligent Prenatal Care
A birth injury can cause permanent brain damage, mental disabilities, and physical disabilities, requiring life-long medical care. If you received negligent care during pregnancy or were injured by a medical mistake during labor, talk to the experienced team at Gilman & Bedigian. Contact us today for a free consultation.