States weigh bans on shackling jailed moms during childbirth

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah is one of at least four states considering bans this year on the shackling of incarcerated women during childbirth.

Advocates say the practice was once shockingly common around the United States, but that's been changing over the past two decades as 22 states passed laws against it.

The changes come amid explosive growth in the number of women in America's jails and prisons. The American Civil Liberties Union estimates about 12,000 pregnant women are incarcerated across the country each year.

The Utah measure has passed the state House and is being considered by the Senate. State Democratic Rep. Stephanie Pitcher argues the chains are both unnecessary during labor and exacerbate health risks.

The measure is a relief for mothers like Michelle Aldana, who was shackled when she gave birth while incarcerated in 2001.