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Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women

Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women
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Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySchumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap House passes bill to combat gender pay gap MORE (D-Wash.), along with 21 co-sponsors, on Tuesday introduced legislation to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from detaining and shackling pregnant migrant women. 

The Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act, which has been endorsed by 17 social justice organizations, would prohibit immigration officers from detaining pregnant women in most circumstances and improve standards of care for those in custody. 

"It is absolutely unacceptable that in our country pregnant women are being detained, shackled, and denied the care they need to have a healthy pregnancy," Murray said in a press release about the legislation. "The Trump Administration should immediately reverse course on this heartless and dangerous policy that puts the health of mothers and infants at risk."

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Murray told BuzzFeed she introduced the legislation in response to a recent report from the news outlet on detained migrant women who say they were shackled around the stomach, abused and neglected while pregnant. Several women who spoke to BuzzFeed said they miscarried due to maltreatment. 

"An official arrived and they said it was not a hospital and they weren’t doctors," one woman from a detention center in San Diego told Buzzfeed. "They wouldn’t look after me. I realized I was losing my son. It was his life that I was bleeding out. I was staining everything. I spent about eight days just lying down. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything. I started crying and crying and crying." 

The Trump administration in December ended Obama-era protections for pregnant women. While the guidelines under former President Obama discouraged the detainment of migrant women, the Trump administration now allows ICE to detain women not yet in their third trimester. 

ICE told BuzzFeed they have detained more than 500 pregnant women since December, according to Murray's press release. 

The 21 co-sponsors include Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Nearly half of women say they're more stressed amid pandemic: survey Alabama museum unveils restored Greyhound bus for Freedom Rides' 60th anniversary MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers Schumer works to balance a divided caucus's demands DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBriahna Joy Gray: Biden campaign promises will struggle if Republicans win back Congress Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers McConnell sidesteps Cheney-Trump drama MORE (I-Vt.), Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerNever underestimate Joe Biden Police reform talks ramp up amid pressure from Biden, families Victims' relatives hold Capitol Hill meetings to push police reform MORE (D-N.J.), and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandA bipartisan effort to prevent the scourge of sexual assault in the armed forces Overnight Defense: Top general drops objection to major change in prosecuting military sexual assault | Supreme Court declines to take up case from former West Point cadet | Pentagon says 'small' attacks not affecting Afghanistan withdrawal A historic moment to truly honor mothers MORE (D-N.Y.) 

Warren, Booker and Harris signed onto a letter in April alongside several other Senate Democrats questioning ICE's standards on detaining pregnant women. The letter, addressed to CE chief Thomas Homan, was written in response to the announcement that the agency was planning to treat pregnant detainees the same as any others.

"In light of reports that ICE has failed to provide critical medical care to pregnant women in immigration detention — resulting in miscarriages and other negative health outcomes — this policy change is particularly alarming," the letter reads. 

Booker on Tuesday told BuzzFeed that he hopes Murray’s bill will gain bipartisan support, but even if it does not, “perhaps by bringing this to the public’s attention, it will change practices."