Woman Who Gave Birth in Jail Cell Says Her Cries for Help Were Ignored for Hours, Files Lawsuit

Bill Pan
By Bill Pan
August 30, 2019US News
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Woman Who Gave Birth in Jail Cell Says Her Cries for Help Were Ignored for Hours, Files Lawsuit
Stock photo of a baby's feet. (Vitamin/Pixabay)

A mother who gave birth in a jail cell in Denver, Colorado is suing the Denver Sheriff Department and Denver Health Medical Center after deputies and nurses allegedly ignored her pleas for help during hours of labor.

In a federal lawsuit filed Aug. 28  (pdf), Diana Sanchez accused the staff at the Denver County Jail of forcing her to give birth alone in a cell without medical supervision, ignoring her cries for help through approximately five hours of labor.

According to the complaint papers, obtained by FOX 31 Denver, Sanchez gave birth to a baby boy on July 31, 2018 with no anesthetics or serious medical treatment until after her son was born. The mother claimed this happened because it was “inconvenient” to take her to the hospital during the jail’s booking process.

The 26-year-old mother was eight months pregnant when booked into the Denver County Jail on July 14, 2018, and her due date within three weeks was noted by the facility’s medical personnel. Sanchez felt her first wave of contractions around 5 a.m. on July 31. According to the lawsuit, Sanchez said she spoke with deputies and nurses at least eight times on that morning, informing them each time that she was experiencing contractions. But help never came.

At approximately 9:43 a.m., as the childbirth was imminent, Sanchez alerted jail staff that her water had broken and she was experiencing abdominal pain. She was given an absorbent pad. A surveillance video from the Denver County Jail provided by Sanchez’s lawyer, Mari Newman, shows the young mother lying on a bed, crying out alone in the jail cell before she frantically removes her pants and underwear and gives birth to her son, an hour after her water broke.

“The pain is indescribable and what hurts me more though is that fact that nobody cared,” Sanchez told FOX 31.

“It’s very upsetting because now when my son grows up I’m going to have to tell him (how he was born) and it’s embarrassing,” said Sanchez. “I just feel so disappointed, so let down.”

The lawsuit comes after an internal investigation performed by the Denver Sheriff Department in 2018 that found no wrongdoing in the handling of Sanchez’s childbirth. The spokeswoman said after the investigation, according to FOX 31 Denver, it was determined the deputies “took the appropriate actions under the circumstances and followed the relevant policies and procedures.”

Newman, however, disagrees with the investigation and argues in the complaint that the county jail officials “cruelly chose convenience over compassion.”

“We’re talking about well over five hours that she was in hard labor yelling for help and screaming in pain and they simply failed to take her to the hospital,” Newman told CBS 4 Denver. “The idea that a human being could be treated in this way is it’s really unfathomable,” Newman said.

“Denver and Denver Health are lucky that they didn’t kill anybody this time,” Newman said. “That’s hardly a justification for continuing to say that nothing is wrong with the fact that they made Ms. Sanchez to give birth with no medical care whatsoever in a dirty jail cell, next to a toilet. It’s not right.”

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