Detention of Pregnant Women in the UK



Time to read

2 Minutes

On 11 June 2013, Medical Justice, a UK-based registered charity, released a report entitled Expecting Change: The case for ending the immigration detention of pregnant women. Drawing on interviews with Medical Justice clients detained while pregnant and analyses of the women’s records (e.g., health care, immigration, etc.), the report concludes “that the current policy of detaining pregnant women is ineffective, unworkable and damaging”. Medical Justice highlights its concerns about the conditions of detention and the treatment of pregnant women, including their removal from the UK. Medical Justice questions the current detention policy, particularly since most detained pregnant women in their sample were not removed.

Medical Justice’s report raises several important issues related to the detention of pregnant women, which also underscore the need for further research on this topic. Although the broader literature on immigration detention has focused on physical and mental healthcare issues facing and experienced by detainees, less attention has been given to pregnancy and reproductive health. The report discusses issues pertaining to: antenatal care; informed consent for healthcare services; prescriptions for malaria prophylaxis; and the use of force during deportations. The report also points to the need for gender-specific healthcare services that take into account detained women’s experiences of gendered violence, including rape, torture, and trafficking, and their needs in relation to miscarriages and high-risk pregnancies.

The full report can be read here.

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