When Kelsey Love gave birth to her son on May 16, 2017, she had to chew off the newborn’s umbilical cord. The Indiana resident had given birth, alone, in Kentucky’s Franklin County Regional Jail. Although she screamed in pain during the labor, no jail staffers came to her aid.
In 2018, Love filed a lawsuit against the jail alleging corrections officers were deliberately indifferent to her medical needs. In mid-February 2020, U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove approved a $200,000 settlement amount. The jail did not admit fault.
Eight Months Pregnant and Arrested
Love had been arrested two days earlier on suspicion of impaired driving. She was stopped while driving her mother’s Cadillac Escalade, which had been reported stolen. She told the police she was using opioids and methamphetamine. She was eight months pregnant, and she could not make bail.
Lying Naked on the Floor
Two days later, Love started screaming for help from her jail cell. A female deputy jailer found her lying naked on the floor, holding her stomach. Love was crying and told the deputy that she was having contractions and the baby was coming.
The deputy contacted the facility’s on-call nurse. The nurse said she would look at Love when her regular shift started three hours later but told the deputy to check on Love regularly.
When the nurse did arrive, she and the deputy went to Love’s cell. They found a great deal of blood on the floor. Love had given birth, unattended. After giving birth, she ripped her mattress open. Mother and baby took refuge inside it. Having no other method of detaching the umbilical cord, Love was forced to chew through it.
Love and her son were then brought to the nearest hospital, approximately eight miles away. It was there, her lawyer revealed, that it was discovered Love had lost almost a third of a gallon of blood.
No Mandatory Standards
Love’s case reveals that there are no mandatory standards when it comes to the care of incarcerated pregnant women. As many as 10 percent of female inmates may be pregnant. Local jails have the highest numbers of pregnant women. These women are often dealing with alcohol or substance abuse, mental illness, or domestic violence. It is a systemic problem.
In some facilities, nurses are called when women exhibit any sort of pregnancy-related issue. In others, urgent symptoms are simply ignored. Love’s lawyer points out that the jail staff did not name labor symptoms accurately during the deposition in her civil suit.
In fact, the deputy’s initial report regarding Love stated that the obviously pregnant woman was experiencing back and leg pain when she was actually in labor. It appears that jail staff believed Love was suffering from drug withdrawal rather than about to give birth.
Now Sober and Doing Well
Although his entry into the world was traumatic, Love’s son is doing well and is currently cared for by her father and stepmother. She has been sober and is working on obtaining custody.
Denied Prenatal Care in Jail?
Forced to Have a Baby in a Jail Cell?
Giving birth in jails doesn’t happen often. As we began this post, sometimes a birth can be both sudden and premature. But even in those instances, jail and medical staff need to have the right protocols, training and equipment at the ready.
There was simply no excuse for what happened to Diana Sanchez. We are working on a tragic case where it appears that a woman gave birth and the baby subsequently died in a jail cell. Once again, the woman’s medical needs were ignored.
If you didn’t receive adequate prenatal care or were forced to deliver a baby while in jail, you may be entitled to compensation. You may not get the doctor of your choice while in jail but you are entitled to adequate care. When it comes to jail pregnancies, we believe many jails are not properly prepared while others take a “wait and see” attitude that wastes precious time and often results in tragedy.
Simply because you are in jail doesn’t mean you lose all your rights. Our Constitution protects everyone in America from cruel and unusual punishment. Our Supreme Court says that our rights include adequate medical care while in prison. If you or a loved one miscarried or delivered a bay in jail without proper care, call us.
We will defend your rights anywhere in the nation. Our team of medical neglect and nationwide network of experienced jail death and prison injury lawyers is standing by To learn more, visit our jail medical neglect information page. Ready to see if you have a case? Call US 866.836.4684 or Connect Online.