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Pregnant Women in ICE Custody Claim They Miscarried, Then Were Denied Medical Care

Pregnant Woman Receiving Care
Pregnant Woman Receiving Care JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Pregnant women detained in U.S. immigration facilities suffered miscarriages due to “cruel” practices, according to a BuzzFeed report published on Monday, July 9. 

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At least four expectant mothers detailed how they were allegedly mistreated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at six centers in California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico. Per the investigation, some were shackled around their bellies while being transported. A 23-year-old alleged she was left to bleed after experiencing a miscarriage at four months pregnant.

“An official arrived and they said it was not a hospital and they weren’t doctors. They wouldn’t look after me. I realized I was losing my son,” she told BuzzFeed. “It was his life that I was bleeding out. I was staining everything.” The woman, identified as “E” in the piece, said that she came to the U.S. from El Salvador to raise her child in a safer country. 

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“I spent about eight days just lying down. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything,” E revealed. “I started crying and crying and crying. My soul aches that there are many pregnant women coming who could lose their babies like I did and they will do nothing to help them.”

Virginia Sushila Schwerin shares E’s concern. The midwife and nurse at Circle of Health International’s clinic near the Mexico-U.S. border told the site: “Pregnant women have highly specialized needs and this is a high-risk group. I think it’s inhumane to detain them.”

The BuzzFeed story noted that when Barack Obama was president, ICE was ordered “not to detain pregnant women except in extreme circumstances or in relatively rare cases of expedited deportation.” But Donald Trump’s administration has since changed that policy. Now ICE is responsible for “ensuring pregnant detainees receive appropriate medical care including effectuating transfers to facilities that are able to provide appropriate medical treatment.”

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Ice declined to comment to BuzzFeed on specific cases. “All detainees, determined to be pregnant, are provided appropriate education, prenatal care and postnatal care,” the agency said in a statement to the site. “Such care includes referral to a physician specializing in high-risk pregnancies when high-risk pregnancy is indicated.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand took to Twitter on Monday to express her outrage: “Pregnant women say they are being harmed and denied medical care in immigration detention — even when hemorrhaging and miscarrying. What they’ve endured is shocking and heartbreaking. We must fight back even harder against the cruelty and inhumanity of Trump’s politics.”

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