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The officials involved believed that they were acting out of compassion for these undesirable reproducers, to aid them in their re-entry out of jail, but the implicit message was population control.

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In all of these reproductively specific and structurally violent ways in which the normative sequence of reproduction is disrupted, mass incarceration must be understood through the lens of reproductive justice. This framing calls our attention to the reproductive vulnerability of all people without institutional power. I had just removed my surgical gown and gloves after completing a surgical case at the county hospital on a non-incarcerated patient when my pager went off.

It was the Medical Director at the jail. The Medical Director was somewhat incredulous. Behind his incredulity was the stratified reproduction that is implicit to IVF cost and insurance coverage structures in the USA, that it is classically unavailable to those who are poor and un- or underinsured. Since most of the women cycling through jail are poor and uninsured, it would never occur to those making healthcare decisions in jail to think that IVF would be relevant.

Would a jail provide expensive ovarian stimulation medications? Would it arrange for daily laboratory tests and ultrasound monitoring during the cycle, and transport for the egg retrieval? There are no searchable policies, scholarly analyses, medical case reports or lawsuits involving access to IVF treatment while incarcerated.

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It would be fair to surmise, based on the ways in which incarcerated pregnant women in need of maternity and childbirth care are treated, that jails and prisons would not pro-actively seek out ways to provide IVF to imprisoned women, or to continue IVF cycles for those incarcerated in the midst of a cycle. In the case I describe, the local county hospital had recently started a low-cost IVF programme to make it available to residents in the city who otherwise did not have the financial means or insurance coverage for IVF.

The woman entering jail was part of that programme, along with her male partner. The Medical Director at the jail had a longstanding commitment to social justice and to providing patients in jail with community standard of care. So once I confirmed that this woman had already had the embryo transfer, and that all she needed now was progesterone injections and a pregnancy test, the Medical Director went to great lengths to ensure that these happened. ART has, as a robust body of critical scholarship has demonstrated consistently, destabilized heteronormative assumptions about biological relatedness, disarticulating the steps of procreation in ways that make kinship possible through a myriad of ways.

This core and extraordinarily productive tension in ART destabilizes, recreates and renaturalizes Western kinship relations. The tension is an apt heuristic for thinking about making mothers in jail, and thus thinking about incarceration itself as a set of reproductive technologies. What does this woman entering jail in the midst of an IVF cycle, and the jail health staff's response to it, signal about carcerality's orchestration of reproduction?


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To answer these questions requires an understanding of the premise of health care for incarcerated persons in the first place. The Supreme Court case Estelle v. Yet while Estelle created a constitutional mandate for carceral institutions to provide health care, no mandatory standards for what those healthcare services must be exist. Thus, every jail and prison creates its own policies for what medical care it provides. The decisions of what care to make available or unavailable are shaped by the tension in interpretation of the state's responsibility to care for those it has chosen to confine, and of jailers' assessments of health-related deservingness of allegedly criminal bodies Sufrin, Pregnant women give birth in chains — shackling in labour is legal in 24 states as of August , and still occurs in states where it is prohibited by law American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, n.

Women's reproductive capacities are seen multiply as nuisances, a vulnerability of the institution to lawsuits, and a non-serious medical need that can be deferred until release Sufrin, Far from passive neglect, what these practices against incarcerated pregnant people demonstrate is how the carceral system pursues policies that actively degrade pregnant women and other reproductive bodies: reproductive governance at its finest Morgan and Roberts, These machinations on prisoners' reproduction also entail a management of futurity.

Incarceration intimates a future after release, and reproduction suggests a future of parenting a child. When these temporalities intersect for women in the criminal legal system, even their imagined reproductive futures are carcerally structured — procreation timing contingent upon release, reconnecting with their children, and the threat of re-incarceration.

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Importantly, what is implicit in discussions of reproductive practices on incarcerated women is a heterobiological foundation of motherhood. That is, the functional aspect of reproduction is discussed, whether it is a pregnant women in need of prenatal care, or a woman giving birth, but how she came to be pregnant and to be reproducing is presumed to be from heterosexual sex. The Medical Director's surprised response to an enjailed woman's IVF cycle reveals the pervasiveness of this assumption. For how could anyone fathom ART for prisoners?

This particular incarcerated IVF patient was married to a man, but the ART involved also intimates the unfathomability of non-heteronormative reproduction: a lesbian incarcerated mother? Transgendered pregnant person in jail? Amid the limited attention to carceral reproduction and families, the family and reproductive rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer LGBTQ families are not addressed, nor is access to ART in general. What this foreclosure of LGBTQ reproduction by incarceration reveals more broadly is the failure of carceral systems to imagine that there is value to non-normative reproduction, to the reproduction of bodies that social norms have deemed deviant, due to sexuality, criminality or both.

In short, the jail as a set of reproductive technologies actively erases the existence of or desire for queer parenthood for incarcerated persons. Sigrid Vertommen similarly argues that incarceration can be used as a reproductive technology in the project of nation building. She describes how Palestinian political prisoners in Israel are intentionally denied conjugal visits that might enable them to reproduce. Here, the prison and jail bars serve well to materially restrict the types of reproduction that are valued and enabled.

So when the Medical Director at the jail called me about the newly arrested woman in the middle of an IVF cycle, there was no protocol, no clear set of actions for how to deal with this. The National Commission on Correctional Health Care, which accredits health facilities in prisons and jails that voluntarily follow its standards, makes no mention whatsoever of any ART National Commission on Correctional Health Care, This non-concern for promoting procreation of people behind bars is undergirded by the tension between the prison's obligation to provide health care and prisoners' deservingness of health care.

It also overlaps with the moral dimension of who is considered fit to reproduce. As analyses of the infertility industry and disparate access to it have shown, ART is available to those whose reproductive futures are considered to matter Twine, Incarcerated bodies do not meet that culturally crafted criterion — a reproductive injustice.

This also signals the ways in which incarceration precludes the breadth of family-making opportunities enabled by ART for LGBTQ or straight cis-gender incarcerated individuals. Yet for a woman in prison, who might be serving a long sentence that extends through her 20s and 30s, ART could offer the possibility of biological reproduction that is generally precluded by the forced separation from a woman's male partner conjugal visits are only rarely allowed.

But what if, in addition to examining the ways in which incarceration precludes, disrupts and disregards incarcerated women's abilities to create and sustain families, we look more to the productive aspects of carceral power Foucault, ? Technology is commonly understood as a set of practices, often involving mechanical means and tools, which enable the making of something.

As Foucault has argued, technologies can also come in the form of social and political projects that seek to regulate individual and group behaviour to cultivate particular social orders, especially through the regulation of sexuality and reproduction Foucault, Queer families, single parents and heteronormative families — all made possible through adoption, gestational carriers, placing a single sperm inside a single egg in an embryology laboratory, among other practices — shed light on the ways in which identity, gender and sex roles, and relatedness are intentionally cultivated and passively experienced.

Furthermore, social programmes can also operate as technologies in crafting specific forms of familial relatedness and reproduction. Katherine Mason, for instance, demonstrates how the women, infant and children food assistance programme demands and reinforces — in common with many welfare programmes in the USA — an idealized, normative, self-reliant motherhood Mason, This understanding of social and material technologies makes it possible then to see mass incarceration itself as cultivating new ground states of reproductivity. For mass incarceration disrupts the typical narrative of reproduction, as detailed above, and both creates and forecloses how women in the criminal legal system can reproduce and participate in familial relatedness.

They can only mother in certain ways, under the coercive cloak of incarceration. Mass incarceration thus produces and activates particular forms of reproductivity that differentially value incarcerated women's reproduction. Like ART, mass incarceration critiques the naturalized assumptions ascribed to human reproduction, assuming that it is prior to social life.

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Mass incarceration manages the very sociality of families, particularly black families whose members are incarcerated or live under the threat of incarceration and constant policing Coates, Drawing on a variety of technical practices that form substrates for relatedness, mass incarceration makes and remakes families in a myriad of ways. For women like Kima and others I met during my fieldwork, mass incarceration shaped their own understandings of what types of mothers they could be. These understandings are also informed by the broader social imagination of these women's reproductive worthiness.

The default assumption was that pregnant women who gave birth in custody would not go home from the hospital after childbirth with their babies, and that having relationships with their biologically gestated offspring requires work and reproductive governance from institutions such as jails, child welfare systems, family and drug courts, and hospitals. Kima knew what to expect while giving birth when incarcerated: a guard outside her room at all times, and only her 2-day postpartum recovery hospital stay to bond with her baby.

It was also procedurally unnecessary: Kima was guarded at all times and could not abscond with her baby. While Kima expected to leave the hospital, back to jail, without her baby, she did not expect this additional layer of policing. She was devastated, and I sat with her as she wailed for nearly an hour as the nurse removed her baby from her room.

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The next morning, settled into the familiar, internalized assumption that her mothering was always controlled, she cooed tenderly as she held her baby, with one of Kima's arms handcuffed to a rocking chair, in the nursery. Another woman, Evelyn, was also in jail several times during her pregnancy. She gave birth a few days after her release from jail. She was in a residential drug treatment programme designed for mothers with substance use disorder and their babies Haney, Despite being part of this intensely supervised programme that would both help with her addiction and enable her to be with her baby, CPS did not permit her to take her baby from the hospital to the programme with her; she had not, they claimed, been there long enough to demonstrate her commitment to her own recovery.

While Evelyn was disappointed, she was not surprised as she was accustomed to this state-sponsored orchestration of her parenting. The other two babies she had given birth to were swiftly removed from her — one was fast-tracked into adoption, circumventing her legal rights, and the other was being raised in the custody of a family member — as Evelyn was deemed unsuitable to parent.

She hoped to change that with her third baby, so she dutifully attended group therapy and showed up to the CPS-sponsored visiting centre for visits with her newborn baby, who was in foster care. Kima had similar experiences at such programmes designed for mothers struggling with addiction and their babies.

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The tease of being at such a place but not being allowed to have her baby cultivated in her anger, frustration and resignation. As she told me one day when she was back in jail:. So even when I do go [to a programme], I just really wish that they'd just give me my baby. I don't care. I mean, who cares? But give me my baby, because if I had my baby I wouldn't do — I wouldn't have time to do it and I wouldn't do it. But they're not giving her to me. Kima and Evelyn thus had internalized expectations that their motherhood was adjudicated, and that nurturing or having any type of relationship with their children was conditional on the state's judgement of their worthiness.

Their patterned reproduction of getting pregnant, giving birth, then having their babies removed and placed with other state actors makes their reproductive roles seem like they are, by default, gestational carriers. That is, whether it is the jail cell, family court or CPS that prevents these women from parenting, such institutions make these women's reproductive experiences limited to carrying a pregnancy for someone else. They have little hope of actually raising the children they gestate and birth because of these various disciplinary, carceral institutions that govern their lives.

And so they get pregnant, gestate and give birth, but do not parent their children. I should note that in my fieldwork at the San Francisco jail and in my national level activities working with prison and jail administrators and organizations, I have not encountered any policies or instances of incarcerated women working as paid surrogates. This perspective on incarceration creating a de-facto gestational surrogacy must be understood in the context of the reproductive labours that make incarcerated mothers' children available to the state and to potential non-biological parents Briggs et al.

Rather than being framed through issues of the transactional, market-based concerns of traditional gestational surrogacy, carcerally crafted carriers must be understood through a reproductive justice framing. That is, women who are disproportionately women of colour and women whose lives are affected by economic insecurity are conscripted into a non-consensual arrangement that entices them with motherhood, only to lead their children to other parents through the surveillance and control of carcerality. There is a deeper violence in the normalized expectation held by some of these women they will not be permitted to raise their children, that they are just producing another baby.

For instance, Kima's experiences of gestating pregnancies and birthing children that she expected to be taken from her led her to have a trial approach to her reproduction. Instead, she told me, she was already trying to get pregnant again with several men she casually knew on the streets:. Oh, yes, I did. I tried that. If I was pregnant right now, I would be happy because — not saying that I can forget about my other children.

I mean, that's not what it is, but just try to have one that I can keep, so that I can keep it. Incarceration, and the maternal expectations and experiences it cultivates for women like Kima and Evelyn, is central to how the women ensnared in the criminal legal system manage their fertility Bledsoe, It is a contingency view of their fertility, based not on a sense of procreative capacity that declines with age, but on traumatic reproductive experiences that the jail — and other similar disciplinary institutions — has orchestrated for their lives.

Their fertility status as gestational carriers is not characterized by traditional concerns of surrogacy arrangements, such as the potential exploitative economic arrangements, the transactional nature of reproduction and the known permutations of kinship substance Teman, Instead, understanding how their reproductive bodies had become default gestational carriers underscores the ways in which mass incarceration, overlapping with the longstanding policies and moral discourses that devalue the reproduction of poor women and women of colour, operates as a reproductive technology.

At the same time that mass incarceration is a reproductive disruption, carceral institutions simultaneously promote normative motherhood inside. Prisons and jails are not completely bereft of parenting opportunities, and initiatives at some individual prison and jail sites actively try to cultivate normative motherhood and kinship ties through and around the institutional walls.

The oldest nursery programme, in New York State, has been in continuous operation since Gilad and Gat, Although each nursery programme has its own configuration, generally there are brightly coloured playrooms, paediatricians who come to care for the babies, parenting classes, cribs and strollers, and other trappings that make it seem less like a prison.

Documentaries feature testimonials from women who describe, through tears, how being able to bond with their babies despite, or in some cases in spite of, being in prison changed their lives, helped them parent and gave them confidence McShane,