The Impact of Criminalizing Abortion on Prisoners and Mass Incarceration

A Return to Forced Birth in Shackles

Women prisoners at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, Wilsonville, Oregon. Photo: Oregon Department of Corrections.

In the aftermath of Roe, women prisoners seeking to terminate pregnancies often had to go to court and seek injunctions forcing jail and prison officials to provide them with access to abortion services. There is a dearth of information about how many pregnant prisoners are in custody at a given time and how many have sought to terminate their pregnancies.

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Paul Wright is the founder and director of the Human Rights Defense Center and the editor of Prison Legal News. He has advocated for the rights of prisoners for over 30 years and is a former prisoner. To learn more about criminal justice and prison issues go to: and

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