I’m an OBGYN and I practice at a jail, where I take care of incarcerated women.
People often ask me, how did you come to work with incarcerated women? I was in the middle of my first year residency, delivering a baby. Everything was very familiar about the delivery scene; the nervousness, wondering if everything was going to be okay, helping the woman to push. But the one thing that was different is that she was shackled to the bed; she was a prisoner. And that moment troubled me so deeply that I developed an interest in learning more about these women.
Women make up a much smaller proportion of the correctional population than men — about 9% of everyone who is incarcerated. And 62% of [those] women are mothers to children who are less than 18 years old. Because women comprise such a small proportion, their gender-specific needs have been neglected. That’s particularly salient when it comes to their healthcare.
In theory, women do have the choice to have an abortion if they learn they are pregnant when they are in prison. There are constitutional guarantees — the 8th and the 14th amendments — and a number of judicial precedents, so it’s very clear that incarcerated women should have access to abortion. However, in practice, the people who are making the decisions have incredible discretion and many women lack access to abortion if they choose it.
About 1400-2000 births occur every year to women who are behind bars, and what they get for prenatal care is highly variable. There are standards that require prisons to have prenatal care onsite, but on the ground, some women have to be transported offsite and some women don’t even get prenatal care.
In labor, they usually get transported to an outside hospital. They can’t have any family support members in the room, and only 15 states have laws restricting the shackling of women in labor and delivery. A woman in labor, shackled, is what inspired me to work with this population. It’s inhumane and unnecessary, and it poses a lot of medical risks to the mother and the fetus. It also interferes with our ability to do emergent interventions if necessary.
People think prisons and jails are far away and we forget about the people who get locked up inside; we think they have nothing to do with us. So I hope I’ve given you some things to consider about what it’s like to be a woman when you’re in the grip of the prison or jail system.
If Cinderella were given a single shining epiphany (instead of a fairy godmother), she would have realized: “This is my father’s house. This is my father’s estate. I am the rightful heiress to everything here!” then she would have said: “Get off of my property, take nothing with you, and never show your faces to me again! You ugly, bitter, insecure, envious witches!” And I’m sure she would have been happier, sooner!
Introverts don’t get lonely if they don’t socialize with a lot of people, but we do get lonely if we don’t have intimate interactions on a regular basis.
Have you ever heard the phrase cockblocking? You know, you’re at a bar, talking to a girl, and what happens? Her less attractive friend comes over and ruins everything. Cockblock. Well I have to tell you something guys: I have been the less attractive friend, and you were NOT cockblocked. I was following orders from my better-looking friend that she did not wanna fuck you. …Girls have two signals for their friends: ‘I’m gonna fuck him’ and ‘HELP.’
1. In Haiti the French requested to have a meeting with Toussaint L’Ouverture. At the meeting he was arrested and then exiled to France where he died in prison.
2. In Nigeria a British officer requested to have a meeting with King Jaja. Upon arriving at the meeting Jaja was arrested and later deported to the West Indies.
3. In Sierra Leone the British attacked Bai Bureh. By Bai Bureh’s own account he was on peaceful terms with the British and didn’t even realize he was at war with them until he got word that the British had killed some of his people and were planning to kill him. The British later made it appear as though Bai Bureh started the war when they imposed taxes on him—by Bai Bureh’s own account no one asked him to pay taxes, yet if you go on Wikipedia right now they will give you the colonialists side of what happened.
4.The Wuchale Treaty signed between Ethiopia and Italy had two separate versions, one in Italian and the other in Amharic. Menelik was unaware of this as he did not speak Italian or have an translators who did. After this incident, Menelik took very extra precautions when making treaties with Europeans.
To be white, or straight, or male, or middle class is to be simultaneously ubiquitious and invisible. You’re everywhere you look, you’re the standard against which everyone else is measured. You’re like water, like air. People will tell you they went to see a “woman doctor” or they will say they went to see “the doctor.” People will tell you they have a “gay colleague” or they’ll tell you about a colleague. A white person will be happy to tell you about a “Black friend,” but when that same person simply mentions a “friend,” everyone will assume the person is white. Any college course that doesn’t have the word “woman” or “gay” or “minority” in its title is a course about men, heterosexuals, and white people. But we call those courses “literature,” “history” or “political science.”
This invisibility is political.