Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Advocates Call for Inquiry after Woman Gives Birth to Baby in Ottawa Jail Cell

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Advocates Call for Inquiry after Woman Gives Birth to Baby in Ottawa Jail Cell

Article excerpt

Inquiry sought after baby born in jail cell


OTTAWA - An internal investigation has begun and a public inquiry is being demanded after a woman gave birth in an Ottawa jail cell without a doctor.

Women's health needs are being ignored in the prison system and it's time for a full review, says Bryonie Baxter, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society.

The demand for an inquiry comes after Julie Bilotta, a 26-year-old from Cornwall, Ont., gave birth prematurely to a boy on the floor of a cell at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre on Sept. 29.

"It is a cultural thing and I think there needs to be an inquiry into the particulars of this instance, for sure, but there needs to be a national systemic review," said Baxter.

Bilotta's screams for help as she went into labour were ignored for hours, said Baxter. It was only after she was put in isolation, and a nurse noticed a baby's foot emerging, that paramedics were called, she said.

After the birth, Bilotta and the baby were rushed to hospital.

Proper procedure would dictate that a pregnant woman be brought to a hospital as soon as there are any signs she might soon give birth, said Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario's minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. She cited privacy issues for refusing to talk about details of this particular incident.

"When they go into labour they're supposed to be transported to the hospital," said the minister, who practised as a nurse prior to entering politics.

"A baby being born in a detention centre is not the ideal place."

Bilotta had been checked twice by nurses at the jail, but they decided she was in false labour. The woman said she was also given Tums and told she had indigestion.

Bilotta's mother Kim Hurtubise has been caring for the baby, named Gionni Lee Garlow, since he was released from hospital nine days after birth.

Bilotta was returned to the correctional centre two days after giving birth. …

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