In this series,¬†The more you know, the better you do, our¬†summer intern Amber Byrd will look at different concepts that impact the fight for reproductive freedom in Ohio. Next up, we’re going to look at a topic near and dear to our mission: Excessive Force, Policing, & Pregnancy.

What is it?

Excessive force and policing refers to the unnecessary use force on pregnant persons by law enforcement during arrests and detainments.

Who does it affect?

Pregnant persons are amongst the most vulnerable victims of excessive force by law enforcement.

Because of systemic oppression and racial discrimination, Black persons are 5 times more likely to be stopped by law enforcement than White people, even without just cause.

Black individuals are disproportionately victims of police violence. In 2019, there were 999 fatal police encounters. Of those encounters 250 were Black (25%).

Black people are more likely to be stopped and questioned by law enforcement out of “suspicion” and non-violent offenses than any other group.

Why this matters

Often times, when pregnant persons are victimized by the police these encounters prove to be traumatic and often times fatal.

There have been several documented cases of excessive police force and pregnancy. For example, in January 2020, three Southfield, Michigan police officers allegedly wrongfully accused 38 year-old Crystal White of being armed with a weapon. She was 12 weeks pregnant at the time. After being tased and forcibly handcuffed, this encounter resulted in the loss of her pregnancy.

The use of force on pregnant persons can lead to complications such as, miscarriage and hemorrhage.

What we can do

Law enforcement must be held accountable for any wrongdoing and offenses.

People need to make their voices heard at a local level by voting in local elections and writing to state legislators.

Educate ourselves about policing in Black and Brown communities and the effects of police brutality.

Lastly, check your biases and speak up when you see injustice happening; don’t be a bystander!


About the author

My name is Amber Byrd. I am a second-year doctoral student studying Sociology (Medical Sociology and Social Inequality) at Case Western Reserve University. I am a summer intern at NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. I will be presenting a series of information about reproductive justice and issues facing the Black body. In the age of Black Lives Matter, it is important to understand the lasting effects of systemic racism and how it pertains to reproductive justice and reproductive health. I will present this information through a series of fact sheets that will be published once a week. I hope you will join me in learning more about this extremely important topic. It is important that we all work together to create a more equitable future for the current and future generations.

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