AP NEWS

Woman who gave birth in jail cell sues over medical care

March 4, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A woman who gave birth in a Connecticut prison cell last year when she was 19 has filed a lawsuit alleging she was denied medical care both before and while the baby was being born.

Tianna Laboy’s lawyers argue that officials inside York Correctional Institution in East Lyme did not provide proper prenatal care during her pregnancy and ignored her pleas for help during four days of labor.

She gave birth without medical assistance on the toilet inside her locked and unsanitary cell in the early morning of the morning of Feb. 13, 2018, according to her lawsuit.

The child, according to the lawsuit filed on Sunday, was born more than five weeks premature and spent two weeks in intensive care.

Spokeswoman Karen Martucci said the Department of Correction does not comment on pending litigation.

Laboy’s lawyers said despite complaining of abdominal pain and other symptoms on the Friday leading up to the Wednesday birth, Laboy was told by prison medical staff that she could not been seen immediately because she had not filled out the appropriate medical form.

She sought help again on that Sunday, “but was told she should return if and when her contractions were less than 2 minutes apart,” according to the lawsuit.

She eventually gave birth on the toilet and the infant hit her head as she fell into the toilet bowl, according to the lawsuit.

Laboy pulled the baby out of the toilet and, at the urging of her cellmate, “patted her on the back to get all the fluid out.” According to the lawsuit, that is when the baby then began to breathe.

Following the birth, two UConn Health employees were escorted from the prison and told not to return while the incident was under review.

Two weeks later, the state announced it would move responsibility for the inmate medical care from UConn Health to the Department of Correction, amid growing concerns over medical treatment, including that given to Laboy. The Department of Correction took over medical care last July.