Few things are as profound as a mother giving birth, a physical and psychological challenge usually made more bearable by the presence and support of a loved one.
But not every mother-to-be has the opportunity to give birth in a warm and supportive environment. Pregnant women who are in prison must, of course, serve their time, but they don't need to be held in barbaric conditions while delivering a baby.
The state Senate approved legislation recently to end, for the most part, the practice of an inmate bringing a child into the world while being shackled like an animal. While some inmates need restraints to prevent them from harming themselves, their babies or corrections personnel during delivery, most are not a flight risk, particularly during the throes of labor.
Introduced by Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County, SB 1074 passed unanimously in the Senate and makes sensible exceptions to allow restraints in the rare cases of an inmate who is likely to do harm or is a threat to escape. The bill's next stop is the House of Representatives, where it deserves similar support.
Six states ban the shackling of inmates during childbirth, a practice condemned as harmful by medical organizations and as inhuman by the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups. While Pennsylvania isn't often counted in the vanguard of progressive states, it will be on this issue if it enacts this law.