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Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill outlawing the practice of handcuffing women prisoners to hospital beds during childbirth in Massachusetts.
The bill would create a uniform ban on restraining women during pregnancy, labor and delivery in state and county correctional facilities unless they present a specific safety or flight risk.
The bill also creates basic standards of prenatal and postpartum care to ensure safe, healthy outcomes for female prisoners and their newborns.
They include standards for the treatment and medical care of pregnant inmates, nutrition, prenatal and postnatal care and counseling services.
Although the Department of Correction, which controls state prisons, already prohibits prisoners in labor from being restrained, each county jail has had its own policies.
Patrick sign the legislation at a Statehouse ceremony Thursday attended by supporters and sponsors of the measure.