The first time I miscarried, I was in my home. There was tea, there was Netflix, there was someone taking care of me and, still, it was agony. No amount of creature comforts could make miscarriage easier, so it sickens me to think that there are women experiencing a miscarriage in detention centers where there is not only the lowest level of healthcare – but also no compassion for the loss of their child and trauma incurred.

Recently reports have surfaced of the degrading conditions experienced by immigrant women who suffer miscarriages in detention centers in the United States.  Although officials have stated that these women are being adequately cared for according to ICE directives, the complaints filed state otherwise have been filed on behalf of several women who were pregnant during their detainment. Some of those women have even miscarried during their internment and they have reported minimal compassion from the officials in charge.

This is heartbreaking.  

This issue does not just speak to me as a woman who has known miscarriage and traumatic pregnancy, it speaks to me as a human. A compassionate human who believes that mothers and their babies deserve more than what they are allegedly receiving in these detention centers.

Miscarriage is devastating.

It is an experience that leaves your body embattled and your spirit broken. I have miscarried twice and the trauma I endured has stuck with me. Laying on my bathroom floor while I bled profusely and my uterus viciously cramped, I felt so isolated. Except, I wasn’t. Because on the other side of that bathroom door was my support system. My doctors, my family, my husband; they were right there if I needed them to be.

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However. this is not the case for these women in the detention centers. They do not have a friend to call or a trusted medical professional that they can turn to, so they are truly alone. Their requests for help are being disregarded because of their status as prisoners.

Like those of us at home or in a hospital, they cramp and they bleed heavily while drowning in the realization that they are losing their baby, and no one seems to care. According to a Buzzfeed article in which women being detained shared their experiences, they are being told that they can’t be helped because the detention centers aren’t hospitals and the officials in charge aren’t doctors. Perhaps they listen to these meager excuses while their maternal instincts rage against the neglect that they and their babies are facing.

They are so vulnerable.

These women are vulnerable, but not because they are pregnant. They are vulnerable because they are not being treated with the humanity and care that they deserve. Their health and well-being are in the hands of people who would rather shrug off responsibility than lift up another human in their time of need.

This is unacceptable.

Whether or not you agree with the policies being enforced or the reasons these women have for coming here, we should all be able to agree on this: humans deserve better. Women deserve better. Pregnant women who are losing their babies deserve better.

All women deserve compassion.

These women deserve not to be shackled around their pregnant bellies. Every one of them deserves access to prenatal care. They deserve someone to hold their hand in comfort when they find out they have lost their baby.  

Each one deserves the support of those who remember that they are people

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Perhaps we can’t release them or provide them with medical care. We may not be next to them to hold their hand, but we can still support each woman.

Yet we can show them the compassion they deserve by sharing their stories and contributing to the organizations committed to helping them in their most desperate hour. Stand up and say, “I know the horrors of miscarriage. I know what it is to be vulnerable. I can empathize and I can help.


Lend your voice to this important cause:



Photo by MMPR on Unsplash

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    Rachel Whalen

    Rachel Whalen

    Rachel Whalen is a mother, wife, and Kindergarten teacher from Barre, Vermont. Her life's work is to keep the memory of her daughter, Dorothy, alive through words both spoken and written. Rachel shares her family's journey through loss and all that has come after on her blog: An Unexpected Family Outing.