Tuesday, November 20, 2007

pregnant in prison

via alec.

according to bbc news, a vietnamese woman convicted of dealing heroin and ecstasy has become pregnant while being held on death row:

The woman, a 39-year-old convicted heroin trafficker, was being held on death row when she became pregnant.

Police say the father of the child is a fellow prisoner who delivered food to the prisoners on death row.

Under Vietnamese law, death sentences for pregnant women must be converted to life in prison.

criminal punishment is often a good measure of societal definitions of barbarism. in vietnam, it is apparently considered barbaric to execute a pregnant woman by firing squad, but not barbaric to execute a woman who had given birth prior to her incarceration. at least such a policy spares us the tortuous logic needed to justify the alternative -- sparing the woman's life until after she had given birth, then spiriting the baby away and lining the mother up before the firing squad in a bloody hospital gown. of course, the economists might argue that such a policy creates perverse incentives, giving female death row inmates great incentives to conceive with guards or inmates.

i haven't heard of such cases in the states, but plenty of american women give birth in prison every year. for example, the birth attendants run a prison doula project, providing pregnancy, labor, and post-partum doula services and childbirth education classes to women incarcerated in washington state. a noble human rights effort, i'd say, and worthy of our support and emulation.

No comments: