Family planning healthcare experiences of women incarcerated in Colorado jails
Awarded 2018
Emerging Scholars in Family Planning
Joanna Wong, MD, MPH
University of Colorado

Nationwide rates of incarceration for women have increased compared to rates of their male counterparts. Women in jails and prisons across the US are often of reproductive age and disproportionately include ethnic minorities who are less educated and often impoverished, creating one of the most vulnerable populations in our country. Multiple studies have demonstrated high rates of unplanned pregnancies in this population and at any given time approximately 6-10% of incarcerated women are pregnant. Although many fundamental rights are taken away from a woman once she is arrested, the Eighth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment preserve her right to family planning services such as contraception and abortion. Despite this legal precedent, incarcerated women experience variable access to such services, typically determined by facility policies and local resources. This study will anonymously survey currently incarcerated women within Colorado jails about their interest in and access to reproductive health care. Participants will also be asked if they are pregnant at the time of incarceration and whether they were counseled on options, including termination. Given the scant data that exists regarding access to reproductive health care during incarceration, this study will improve our understanding of women’s access to family planning services while incarcerated and identify areas for improvement.