School of Social Work Faculty Publications

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



We describe how mass incarceration directly undermines the core values of reproductive justice and how this affects incarcerated and nonincarcerated women.

Mass incarceration, by its very nature, compromises and undermines bodily autonomy and the capacity for incarcerated people to make decisions about their reproductive well being and bodies; this is done through institutionalized racism and is disproportionately done to the bodies of women of color. This violates the most basic tenets of reproductive justice—the right to have a child, not to have a child, and to parent the children you have with dignity and in safety.

By undermining motherhood and safe pregnancy care, denying access to abortion and contraception, and preventing people from parenting their children at all and by doing so in over-policed, unsafe environments, mass incarceration has become a driver of forms of reproductive oppression for people in prison and jails and in the community.


PMID: 31967889 Free PMC article


10.2105/AJPH.2019. 305407



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