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The woman, then 27, was shackled at the ankles for at least the first hour of labor on February 8, despite doctors telling NYPD officers that the restraints were illegal and needed to be removed, the complaint filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan said.
The use physical restraints on pregnant women during labor and delivery was banned by the state of New York in 2009.
The woman was finally freed from all restraints after nine hours, only after a judge came to Montefiore Medical Center to arraign her in her hospital bed on a charge of violating a protective order, her lawyer, Katherine Rosenfeld, told the New York Times.
The woman, identified only as Jane Doe after asking the court to remain anonymous due to the humiliation she suffered from the experience, was in custody for a total of 30 hours.
'I haven’t made sense of it myself and I’m not ready to explain it to my child,' she said in a sworn statement.
The NYPD is 'examining these allegations very carefully,' department spokesperson Nicholas Paolucci said.
New York police officers are accused of forcing a pregnant Bronx woman who was under arrest for violating a protective order to give birth with her right wrist handcuffed to the hospital bed in February. A file photo shows a person in custody, shackled at the ankles
'The fact that pregnant women and women in labor would be subject to the most draconian treatment imaginable, particularly when they stand accused of a misdemeanor, speaks volumes about the macho culture of police departments and corrections,' Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said.
Officers allegedly consulted with a sergeant when a doctor told them the restraints were illegal, posed health risks and needed to be removed.
The officers ultimately said 'the NYPD Patrol Guide supersedes this law and that patient would need to remain restrained during remainder of hospitalization,' according to doctor's notes following the 6.14am delivery.
The guide does require officers to handcuff and shackle those in custody who require medical or psychiatric attention, but it also allows the discretion to remove cuffs when requested by doctors or after consulting with a superior officer.
In this case, officers said the supervisor they consulted with told them the restraints must remain, the lawsuit states.
'The fact that they disregarded the medical advice of doctors suggests that they didn’t use any humanity and sort of blindly followed what they perceived to be the policy in the Patrol Guide,' Rosenfeld said.
Officers allegedly consulted with a sergeant when a doctor told them the restraints were illegal, posed health risks and needed to be removed, and said the sergeant said they had to stay. A file photo shows an NYPD patrol car in Manhattan with the motto 'Courtesy Professionalism Respect' displayed on the side
New York banned the use of physical restraints on pregnant women during labor and delivery in 2009, and the law was expanded in 2015 to include in-custody transportation and the eight-week postpartum recovery period
But it still happens, according to the New York Correctional Association.
'Shackling is a dehumanizing, cruel and pointless practice that has no place in New York City in 2018,' the lawsuit said.
The law making it illegal to physically restrain pregnant women specifically during labor and delivery was expanded in 2015 to include in-custody transportation and the eight-week postpartum recovery period.
NYPD settled a similar lawsuit eight months ago stemming from an incident in July of 2015, according to the woman's complaint.
In that case, another Bronx woman who was eight months pregnant was shackled to a bed at Montefiore under the charge of officers from the 43rd Precinct for three days after an arrest on charges that were ultimately dismissed.
A total of 26 states, including New York, ban shackling women in custody who are in labor, with some banning all restraints for all pregnant women, Dr. Carolyn Sufrin, an assistant professor in gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said.
No state or federal laws limit the practice in the other 24 states, according to Sufrin.
Policies in place by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the United States Marshals Service limit the use of restraints on pregnant women.
The First Step Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation currently sitting in the Senate, would ban handcuffing pregnant women in federal prison, among other things.