USA – Evidence-based recommendations to improve reproductive healthcare for incarcerated women

by Andrea Knittel, Angeline Ti, Sarah Schear, Megan Comfort

International Journal of Prison Health 2017 Sep 11;13(3-4):200-06.  DOI: 10.1108/ijph-07-2016-0031


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe standards for evidence-based reproductive healthcare for incarcerated women.

Design/methodology/approach: The literature on reproductive healthcare in the US criminal justice system and recommendations from professional organizations were reviewed and critical areas of concern were identified. Within these areas, studies and expert opinion were synthesized and policy recommendations were formulated through an iterative process of group discussion and document revision. This brief specifically addresses women’s incarceration in the USA, but the recommendations are grounded in a human rights framework with global relevance.

Findings: Women who are incarcerated have health needs that are distinct from those of men, and there is a clear need for gender-responsive reproductive healthcare within the criminal justice system. This brief identifies five core domains of reproductive healthcare: routine screening, menstruation-related concerns, prenatal and post-partum care, contraception and abortion, and sexually transmitted infections. The recommendations emphasize the continuity between the criminal justice system and the community, as well as the dignity and self-determination of incarcerated women.

Originality/value: This brief provides a unique synthesis of the available evidence with concrete recommendations for improving reproductive healthcare for incarcerated women.

PHOTO: From a Medical Students for Choice report entitled Reproductive healthcare policy in Louisiana: incongruence between evidence-based medicine and public policy, by Paige Bradley, 17 September 2017