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Pregnant Prisoners

Volume 591: debated on Thursday 9 July 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will set up an inquiry into allegations that women prisoners are being put under pressure to have abortions in exchange for being moved to open prisons. [HL2516]

The Prison Service has no evidence that women prisoners are being put under pressure to have abortions in exchange for being moved to open prisons. There is no reason why being pregnant should restrict a woman prisoner's progress to open conditions. One of our four mother and baby units is located at Askham Grange, which is an open prison for women.The Prison Service has work in hand to produce, by March 1999, a standard for women's health. Among other things, the standard will clarify the management of pregnant prisoners. Such clarification will be to the benefit of female prisoners and staff.If there is evidence that any woman prisoner has been influenced to have her pregnancy terminated in the circumstances alleged, an investigation of each individual case will be instituted.