Why Was This Woman Separated from Her Baby?
It appears that the answer is that she is an immigrant and the police were overzealous. Tim Chavez posted the following information yesterday:
“…the very worst has been leveled this week against a pregnant woman pulled over, handcuffed and forced to have her baby under custody.
Then, to add insult to this grievous injury, the infant was taken from its mother’s arms as she was taken back to jail.”
According to Tim’s report, Juana Villegas DeLaPaz was pulled over by the Berry Hill police as she was leaving a prenatal clinic with her three children in tow. Although her car was registered, she did not have a current driver’s license. The officer reportedly asked her to call someone to come and drive them all home, but then decided to arrest her. She was handcuffed and taken to jail,
According to an advocate Tim spoke with:
“Its [Metro General Hospital] staff called the father to ask him to pick up the baby. They did this, but couldn’t see the mom because she was sent back to jail. The mom has some type of hearing … (the family doesn’t know if it is for migration or for whatever charges they booked her on.). The mom hasn’t been able to call home. And now the two-day-old baby is without its mother, and who knows what the medical condition of the mother is.”
“At 3 a.m. today — under the cover of darkness and stain of embarrassment — local legal authorities released Ms. DeLaPaz to return home and tardily nurse her child.”
I don’t care about legal status – I think it’s better for all women, legal immigrants or not, to receive prenatal care than not to – at least to have the option. This event sends a message to the community of immigrant women that there will be no discretion, no compassion, that they risk being jailed, giving birth in custody, and having their baby taken away if they take the simple step of seeking medical care while pregnant.
So what if you think “they shouldn’t be here anyway” – the police had discretion to jail her or not, and they looked at this very pregnant woman and decided to do so. Even if you are one of those that think “The Illegals Are The Devil Damning America,” seriously, are you also pro-life? Do you think all babies should get the best possible start, or just the ones where the mothers are infallible? Can you not look at your own children if you have them and ask yourself if you would have wanted a compassionate system to allow you some time with them in their vulnerable first days? If a non-immigrant woman committed a non-violent crime while 41 weeks pregnant, would you advocate for her not to be allowed any time with her newborn? How about if I pulled your wife over for driving without a license, and just suspected that she might be part of another crime?
I cannot imagine what it must feel like to give birth and then have your baby whisked away, to be deprived of those early moments, and to not have the choice of seeing or breastfeeding your newborn, providing that early colostrum and its antibodies. We do not know if she would have chosen to do so, but she did not have that option.
This was not a violent crime – this was simply driving without a valid driver’s license, mixed in with some anti-human sentiment. This woman presumably did not pose any immediate threat to society by being allowed to finish her pregnancy outside of a jail cell and spend precious time with her newborn. And yet, she was not allowed this, she was not respected as a human being. Neither was her infant. A jail cell is not an appropriate environment for a woman who must have been *this* close to giving birth, nor is it appropriate if she was taken back to jail before being allowed proper time for recovery and observation.
Further response from the Berry Hill Police Department may be forthcoming today (including more detail on her treatment). Unfortunately, there are instances all over the country in which pregnant women are treated as criminals – when they are jailed instead of offered medical assistance for a drug addiction, when they miscarry and police tip lines get set up to rat them out (for something that isn’t illegal), when imprisoned women give birth with inadequate care and in shackles, when they try to get help for suspicious bleeding during pregnancy but are jailed and miscarry. Please see the National Advocates for Pregnant Women for more discussion of related issues.
Dear everybody: have a little decency, why don’t ya? It might be time to recheck your priorities.
- BREAKING NEWS … Outrage! Mother and newborn child separated and hurt by 287g in Nashville – Tim at Political Salsa
- Definitions of damnation by 287g in Nashville – Tim at Political Salsa
- Outraged – GingerSnaps
- 287(g) Means Stealing Babies from Mothers – Tiny Cat Pants