Pregnancy Apparently Not A Universal Human Right

Getting pregnant was a death sentence for Amy Gillespie, Change.org (a women’s rights site) reports. Gillespie was jailed because getting pregnant violated the terms of her work release under probation, and when guards repeatedly ignored her pleas for medical aid, she died.

As stated at Change.org: “to imprison a woman for becoming pregnant is a violation of her human rights, and should not be a condition of probation or work release.” Another article on the event, this one from The Curvature, asserts that “the requirement that Gillespie not become pregnant is wholly wrong, misogynistic, and abusive — indeed, no matter what crime she committed…she never should have been jailed for what she did with her own reproductive capacity, whether intentional or not.”

This sobering and sad event is an occasion to reflect on the status of pregnancy as it is, and as it should be. Women should not be forced to become pregnant under duress–ranging from physical coercion like rape to the sometimes extreme social or religious pressures to become mothers–but neither should pregnancy cause women to undergo further violations or harm. Factors such as lack of access to health care, lack of maternity leave, few options to help women escape domestic abuse situations, and restrictive laws like the one featured in this story can all contribute to women experiencing pregnancy as a hardship rather than a joyful experience. From what I understand, many pregnancies are already a struggle for the women and those surrounding them, so social and legal factors should support pregnant women, not further constrain and burden them.

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About Jeana

Jeana

Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.

  • Lionmml

    I give the imprisonment of the woman a huge *raspberry*.

  • LAMR

    I think that once she commit a crime and chose to be in the work release program and commuted her right to be pregnant/give birth during this probationary period I think her treatment after the fact was criminal but she broke a part of her work release term she should have been on birth control or better yet the state should have put her on it something cheap and long lasting an iud, implanon, etc.

  • http://twitter.com/foxyfolklorist Jeana Jorgensen

    Here, in the US. In Pennsylvania, I believe.

  • http://twitter.com/foxyfolklorist Jeana Jorgensen

    Here, in the US. In Pennsylvania, I believe.

  • http://twitter.com/foxyfolklorist Jeana Jorgensen

    And the subsequent ignoring of her medical symptoms… ugh.

  • http://twitter.com/foxyfolklorist Jeana Jorgensen

    And the subsequent ignoring of her medical symptoms… ugh.

  • http://twitter.com/foxyfolklorist Jeana Jorgensen

    It’d be great if the state provided cheap or even free birth control options to men and women who either have to sign an agreement or be in certain programs… but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Too many political representatives, and the people they represent, don’t think contraceptives should be widely available due to their conservative (usually religious) views on the matter.

  • http://twitter.com/foxyfolklorist Jeana Jorgensen

    It’d be great if the state provided cheap or even free birth control options to men and women who either have to sign an agreement or be in certain programs… but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Too many political representatives, and the people they represent, don’t think contraceptives should be widely available due to their conservative (usually religious) views on the matter.