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In Utah Jails, a Rare Reproductive Rights Bright Spot Emerges

2 28 1
08.10.2021

Access to health care for people who are incarcerated is constitutionally guaranteed. But in practice, reproductive care is highly variable in U.S. prisons and jails. Despite the majority of women in the carceral system being of reproductive age, most are unable to continue using their contraception while incarcerated.

Even if a person is in possession of their oral contraception when entering jail, they are typically not allowed to take the pills with them into custody, Dr. Jessica Sanders, assistant professor at the University of Utah in the division of family planning, told Rewire News Group.

As a result of this disruption to contraception access, recently incarcerated people are at high risk of becoming pregnant after being released. (The rate of prior unintended pregnancy is as high as 83 percent among incarcerated women, in contrast to the national rate of 45 percent.) People also use hormonal contraception for a spectrum of medical conditions, from endometriosis to painful periods, which means a pause in access can adversely affect day-to-day health.

The lack of access to medically prescribed contraception marks a significant gap in the reproductive rights and health of incarcerated people.

Now, a new law in Utah is turning the page by guaranteeing what many argue should never have been taken away in the first place: continuous access to contraception in jails.

HB 102, which was signed in March and went into effect in July, requires Utah jails to provide incarcerated people with “the option of continuing certain medically prescribed methods of contraception.” The “certain” methods include oral and injectable contraceptives, and intrauterine devices—although the latter is only available if the oral or injectable contraceptives result in “serious and........

© Rewire.News


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