Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ask Me No Questions

I found an article on an anti-abortion site talking about a recent court ruling in Missouri. Not a bad article at all, by journalism-school standards. The writer followed the basic hard-news rule about getting the most relevant and important facts down in the very first paragraph:

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the state of Missouri must allow pregnant prisoners to get abortions. The judge said the state not only has to allow inmates to get abortions but must provide state taxpayer-funded transportation for them to get to the abortion center from prison and back.

Then came a couple of short paragraphs discussing the background of the case, and how the ACLU sued on behalf of a pregnant inmate who was initially denied an abortion. Nothing sympathetic to the inmate, of course, not on an anti-abortion site, but neither does it contain any “baby-killing harlot” language. It’s all quite matter-of-fact.

Then comes the response from the losing party in the court case:

A representative of Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon would not say whether he intended to appeal the decision, but Gov. Matt Blunt, who opposes abortion, wants him to do so.
"This ruling violates our traditional Missouri values and is an affront to everyone that values the sanctity of human life," Blunt said in a written statement, according to AP. "I urge the attorney general to fight this ruling that prevents the state of Missouri from protecting innocent human life."

If the writer were lazy he could’ve stopped there and had a perfectly respectable little news story. But no; he went so far as to find out just how many people will be affected by this ruling:

ACLU lawyer Tom Blumenthal said that about 35-50 women are pregnant in the Missouri prison system at any given time.

The story ends with information about similar cases in other states.

All in all, a very informative and remarkably unbiased little bit of journalism, especially considering the overall bias of the site. But there’s one thing I want to know here that the article didn’t tell me. “Of course it wouldn’t mention this,” I thought, “not on an anti-abortion site.”

I did some Google searches, and found more articles, to try and find the answer to my one little question. Some articles had a definite pro-choice bias and included commentary about why this court decision is a great thing for women’s rights. Others were anti-choice and discussed the immorality of the court. But I couldn’t find a single article that even asked, let alone answered, my question:

How the hell are inmates in an all-female prison getting knocked up, and why is nobody talking about the male guards?


Anonymous A Moose said...

How the hell are inmates in an all-female prison getting knocked up, and why is nobody talking about the male guards?

Con-jugal visits? Seems like it's discussed a fair bit here

2:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They do occasionally send pregnant women to jail, you know. They might not even know they're pregnant at the time.

6:31 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm sure of that, Anonymous, but I doubt that all or even the majority of abortions are done on inamtes during the first two months of their sentences.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

Is it just me, or is stuff like this sad: "My mans at WSR in Washington State they are allowed street close and musical instruments, but they just a few years ago took trailers away because some guy stabbed his wife in there trailewr cause her dumb ass brought divorce papers to it.So now you have to married before they get arrested for the crime there serving time on. But I hear that you can get married in prison in Cali. and also get trailers after you get married so thats your best bet....."

Obviously they're not doing much for written english in prison. That said, my link didn't work. If you're intersted, just to go and you'll see voluminous amounts from both sexes on the subject.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Nell said...

Jennifer's question is definitely worth looking into.

Women serve much shorter sentences than men, on average, and certainly some proportion of them enter prison already pregnant. For a number of these women, there's actually more access to medical attention in prison than on the outside.

Whether women in Missouri prisons have access to conjugal visits, and if so what numbers of women are involved, should be able to be determined.

But it's hard to believe that guards don't also play a role. There was a recent case (in Tenn?Kentucky? NC? can't remember) of a long-standing ring of guards who exchanged privileges, drugs, and other smuggled items (including weapons) for sex with prisoners. That case came to general attention because it culminated in a shootout between federal marshals and prison guards. Now, it may have been an unusually intense and systematic case, but it's hard to believe that pressure from guards for sex isn't a widespread problem wherever women are prisoners.

12:03 PM  
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1:55 AM  

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