California governor Jerry Brown has vetoed Assembly Bill 568, which would have limited the use of shackles on incarcerated pregnant women to the least restrictive restraints possible. In a statement, Brown claimed that at first he was inclined to sign the bill, but claimed that it “will only serve to sow confusion and invite lawsuits.”
As Lisa Russ of Strong Families points out at the Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice blog, Brown signed a number of laws the previous week that will benefit (non-incarcerated) mothers in California:
In the middle of last week, I lost faith. The Governor's office put out a press release celebrating four important bills for California moms! Hoping against hope, I scanned the list. AB568 was not there. It was important stuff that I support and you probably do too, like protecting health insurance for pregnant women, and something to encourage breast feeding in maternity wards. Good stuff.
And yet, for me, what was left off was loudest of all. We weren't even vetoed on the same day the Governor signed those Mom Bills. Pregnant women who are incarcerated do not count as California moms! Their rights are considered favors that we are doing for them. The fact that they struggle with drugs, with money, with violence, is enough for us to put them away, both behind bars and into another category: prisoners.
Women's rights advocates in California will continue to work for a ban on shackling women in labor.