THE WOMEN'S HEALTH CAUCUS


 

Cephas joins First Lady Wolf, administration officials, Tuttleman Foundation to announce doula pilot program for pregnant women who are incarcerated

HARRISBURG, Feb. 14 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas joined First Lady Frances Wolf and the Departments of Human Services and Corrections to announce a new partnership that is bringing doula services to women who are pregnant while incarcerated. 

Doula services have been found to ease the pregnancy and labor process and improve birth outcomes for both mother and child, according to many studies. Funded through the Tuttleman Foundation, the doula pilot at State Correctional Institute Muncy will expand pregnancy and parenting supports for women who are incarcerated, a key goal of Cephas’s.

Wolf said that the goal of the program is to support mothers through a difficult and vulnerable period and empower them as they prepare to re-enter their communities.

“I'm glad – and proud – to see that the Department of Corrections is recognizing the importance of doulas in the fight to reduce maternal mortality among incarcerated women and improve birthing outcomes for birthing people and children,” Cephas said. “We now have an opportunity to capitalize on this momentum to pass legislation in the House or Senate to include Medicaid coverage for doulas for all birthing people, and the full Dignity for Incarcerated Women bill to show compassion for the unique circumstances that these women face.”

Cephas was previously joined by Dream Corps JUSTICE, the American Conservative Union and Ardella’s House, along with other stakeholders, in their calls to pass the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, which would acknowledge the unique needs of incarcerated women in Pennsylvania and their families, and take proactive steps to address female health care needs, including:

  • Prohibiting the shackling of pregnant women and updating current restraint laws to better document restraint use.
  • Providing a variety of feminine hygiene and incontinence products to incarcerated women at no cost.
  • Prohibiting restrictive housing for pregnant or postpartum women and detainees.
  • Requiring all correctional institution employees who have contact with pregnant incarcerated women to undergo training related to pregnancy, post-partum and trauma-informed care.

“Our work is being met with progress and co-energy from the administration, and now is not the time to stop pressing for other needed changes,” Cephas said. “Women in prison are counting on all of us to be that change.”