Prison Birth Project to have benefit at Smith College
NORTHAMPTON — The Prison Birth Project was created in 2008 and in five years has helped more than 200 women deal with pregnancy, birth and parenting issues while behind bars.
On Friday, the group will hold its second annual Solidarity Supper in Northampton, a celebratory event to raise funds and awareness about childbirth justice and incarceration.
According to members of the organization, there are no national standards for treatment and care of those who experience pregnancy behind bars, and women lack access to health care and their children.
“They are doing it alone, pregnant and with their feet shackled to their hospital beds,” said Marianne Bullock, co-founder of Prison Birth Project. “We support them physically and emotionally, giving rides to prenatal appointments, answering calls at 3 in the morning, or standing between correction officers with restraints in their hands and a laboring woman.”
According to Bullock, 16 states have passed legislation to outlaw the shackling of prisoners birthing and in labor, and Massachusetts is not among them.
Last year’s Solidarity Supper raised over $10,000 to help women get to prenatal appointments, buy pumps to store breast milk, and provide someone to sit by a sick child’s hospital bed while his mother is in prison.
“Our project is about more than working in a prison, it’s about being able to be a mom at all times,” said Mariza Pizii, co-facilitator of The Prison Birth Project’s Mothers Among Us.
Prison Birth Project’s participants and organizers will share personal stories and eat a local, farm-fresh dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the Smith College Conference Center. Advance tickets are required, and they are available at $30 for one or $50 for two online at theprisonbirthproject.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.