December 9, 2010
This November, New Voices Pittsburgh, a reproductive justice and human rights organization and one of Third Wave’s grant partners, held a speak-out in honor of Amy Lynn Gillespie, who died in the Allegheny County Jail in January. Amy had been sentenced to jail when she became pregnant while serving parole. While in jail, she was denied medical treatment for pneumonia by guards, and died three weeks later. Her family has since filed a lawsuit against the jail.
In their campaign of support, New Voices states:
The recently filed lawsuit against the Allegheny County Jail must draw our attention to the grave Reproductive Justice issues and fatal Human Rights violations affecting incarcerated women. The allegations about the conditions in Allegheny County Jail raised in this lawsuit are of serious concern to New Voices Pittsburgh and our allies. The death of Amy Lynn Gillespie was seemingly preventable with basic medical care and reproductive healthcare. The death of any pregnant woman from preventable causes is reproductive injustice and is especially egregious in the custody of the Allegheny County Jail. We challenge the coercive and intrusive practice of conditioning work release on not getting pregnant. We must expose the criminalization of women and pregnancy as a threat to Human Rights that risks women’s health and women’s lives.
Since January of this year, NVP has been working on their FOCUS on Women Campaign, a community organizing initiative led by New Voices Pittsburgh to address the Reproductive Justice and Human Rights issues of incarcerated women in the Allegheny County Jail. “Our strategy for public policy change led to the passage of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1074, the “Healthy Birth for Incarcerated Women Act” in July through the efforts of our allied organizations,” says NVP. “Our campaign produced the Policymaker Leadership Institute with the Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health to “Protect the Rights of Incarcerated Women to Reproductive Health Care” in October.”
You can find photos from their march and speak-out, as well as updates on how you can support their campaign, at New Voice’s Facebook page.
Written by: Melissa Gira Grant