Sign the petition to the Guadalupe County Jail in Seguin, TX: Change your policy and provide proper medical attention to pregnant women during incarceration.
Stand with Jessica De Samito, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the RH Reality Check community and other signers to petition the Guadalupe County Jail to immediately change their policy and provide appropriate medical treatment to incarcerated pregnant women, or transfer Ms. De Samito to Bexar County where they follow federal care guidelines for opioid dependency.
Background: When U.S. military veteran Jessica De Samito realized she was pregnant, she immediately sought treatment for the opioid use that she'd been relying on to help her cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and panic attacks. She found a local methadone treatment provider that offered her emergency enrollment in their program, consistent with federal recommendations for treating pregnant women.
However, because she was on parole for an illegal substance possession charge, she had to appear at a parole revocation hearing this Monday at the Guadalupe County Jail over a urine test she failed before she was able to find treatment. She had expert affidavits with her, but no lawyer. The parole panel said that it would take two to three weeks to issue a decision, but had her immediately taken into custody at the jail, which refuses to provide methadone treatment. Denying daily methadone treatment for pregnant women who are opioid dependent causes sudden withdrawal, which creates a serious risk for stillbirth.
Forced sudden withdrawal is not only dangerous to Ms. De Samito and her pregnancy, but has been condemned as ‘tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ by a 2013 U.N. human rights report, according to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW.) By the time the parole panel makes their decision, it may already be too late to prevent serious harm to Ms. De Samito's health or save her pregnancy.
The sad truth is that incarcerated pregnant women in the U.S. are routinely subjected to inhumane, unconstitutional, medically unsafe treatment and denied necessary care like prescription methadone. Guadalupe County Jail's medical department handles care on a case-by-case basis as determined by a jailhouse doctor and they are not providing Ms. De Samito her prescribed methadone maintenance. This arbitrary and dangerous denial of care not only flies in the face of evidence-based medical care, but it also creates serious risks to both the pregnant woman and her pregnancy.
Act now. Tell Guadalupe County Jail that they must immediately reverse their policy of denying pregnant women access to necessary medical care or transfer Ms. De Samito to Bexar County where they follow federal care guidelines for opioid dependency.