Last week, a post I wrote about the death of Amy Lynn Gillespie generated a lot of attention. Ms. Gillespie, who was being detained Allegheny County Jail for violating the conditions of her work release by becoming pregnant, died after being denied timely medical care for her treatable condition. As I argued in the post, it is appalling and unacceptable both that she was in detention for this reason to begin with and that she was denied her right to health care access.
Since then, I’ve received word of responsive action by New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice. They will be conducting a march tomorrow, Tuesday November 23 at 12pm, the flier for which appears above. In a press release I received via email, New Voices says:
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.
The FOCUS on Women Campaign is 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 campaign began in January 2010 and 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. 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. Our work to educate, activate and mobilize our community continues with the following:
- March/Public Action: Tuesday, November 23, 12noon-1pm, Convene: Fifth and Grant Street, Allegheny County Courthouse; March to Allegheny County Jail
- Public Forum: Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 6-8pm, Location: TBD
If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, please consider attending and/or getting involved with other organizational efforts by New Voices. For updated information on the upcoming public forum on November 30, stay tuned to the New Voices Facebook page.