Attorney General Bonta Takes Action to Ensure Legally Mandated Reproductive Healthcare is Provided in County Jails

Monday, February 14, 2022
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta recently took steps to ensure reproductive healthcare, which is guaranteed by law, is being provided to incarcerated individuals. In response to reports that some counties have failed to provide inmates with adequate care, Attorney General Bonta sent letters last Friday to the sheriffs overseeing each county jail in California requesting confirmation of their compliance with state and federal reproductive health laws. The information provided will confirm whether the counties have the required policies in place to protect the reproductive rights of incarcerated individuals. 

“The right to be treated with dignity does not end when an individual is incarcerated,” said Attorney General Bonta. “These letters are the first step in addressing issues with access to reproductive healthcare in county jails. Ensuring our laws are followed will help ensure proper reproductive health resources and services are available to those in our justice system who need them.”

The review will also ensure compliance with Assembly Bill (AB) 732, which was authored by then-Assemblymember Rob Bonta and passed by the California Legislature in August 2020. Under the law, county jails must:   

  • Ensure inmates identified as possibly pregnant during an intake health exam, or at any time during incarceration, are offered voluntary pregnancy testing and scheduled for laboratory work to verify pregnancy, if consented to by the inmate;
  • Schedule pregnant individuals for an initial obstetrics exam and regular follow up obstetrics and prenatal care visits;
  • Provide pregnant inmates with prenatal vitamins, care that includes treatment for infectious diseases, and lower bunk assignments;
  • Prohibit the shackling of pregnant inmates who are hospitalized for prolonged periods of time or are experiencing frequent labor contractions; and
  • Consider alternatives to the use of solitary confinement for pregnant inmates.

An initial review of county jail policies indicated that many are not in compliance with state and federal laws.

The California Department of Justice’s Healthcare Rights and Access (HRA) Section works proactively to increase and protect the affordability, accessibility, and quality of healthcare in California. HRA’s attorneys monitor and contribute to various areas of the Attorney General’s healthcare work, including nonprofit healthcare transactions; consumer rights; anticompetitive consolidation in the healthcare market; anticompetitive drug pricing; privacy issues; civil rights, such as reproductive rights and LGBTQ healthcare-related rights; and public health work on tobacco, e-cigarettes, and other products.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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