Birth Companions, Women for Refugee Women, Royal College of MidwivesRoyal College of Obstetricians and GynaecologistsMedical Justice and Maternity Action have prepared a joint briefing on the ‘Illegal Migration Bill’.

Under the new ‘Illegal Migration Bill’, women fleeing persecution who arrive in the UK via ‘irregular’ means will be prevented from claiming asylum and detained indefinitely, with no exemption for those who are pregnant, removing the vital protection introduced in 2016 by the 72-hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women.

Being locked up and deprived of your liberty is distressing and harmful for anyone. For women who are pregnant, however, the impact of detention can be particularly acute:

  • The Royal College of Midwives has said: ‘The detention of pregnant asylum seekers increases the likelihood of stress, which can risk the health of the unborn baby.’
  • In his 2016 review of the welfare of vulnerable people in immigration detention, the the former Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Stephen Shaw explained: ‘That detention has an incontrovertibly deleterious effect on the health of pregnant women and their unborn children… I take to be a statement of the obvious.
  • Healthcare in immigration detention if often very poor. The antenatal care and support provided to women who are detained has often fallen short of the care normally available to pregnant women.
  • Research by Medical Justice found that in Yarl’s Wood, women often missed antenatal appointments; some women had no ultrasound scans while detained; and women did not have direct access to a midwife and could not request visits.

We cannot go back to what was happening before 2016, when many pregnant women were being detained for weeks, and sometimes months on end, with no idea of when they would be released.

Read our full joint briefing below, and join us in taking action by speaking up and opposing the indefinite detention of pregnant women.

Joint briefing on the ‘Illegal Migration Bill’
Birth Companions is registered in England and Wales under charity number 1120934 at Office 118, 372 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LT, England. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website.
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