Just got back from the traveling road show Chicago, and wondered if any woman had ever been pregnant while on death row in the US? Was any actually executed? Or was the execution delayed specifically because of same? Has it ever even become an issue?
I doubt if it would ever be an issue because of the length of time it takes to go through the appeals process. If she were pregnant when arrested, her kid would be in grade school before she was executed.
Secondly, getting pregnant inside the prison is difficult. Condemned prisoners are kept in higher security than general inmates, so there’s not much chance for hanky-panky in a hidden location.
Excecutions of women in general are relatively rare in the United States. I’ve never heard of this being an issue, and I’ve done some study in the field.
In last semester’s class on the American jury system, the part of the text discussing the inclusion of women on juries mentioned that in olden times (it mentioned an era, but I don’t remember well enough to hazard a guess on the Straight Dope) in olden places (pretty sure it was England, don’t have the text handy or I’d look it up), it was considered cruel to execute a pregnant woman. So, women would claim pregnancy from time to time to delay an execution, and they’d empanel an all-female jury to determine if she was telling the truth or not. This supposedly being the only way women were allowed on juries in that time/place.
When Mata Hari was scheduled for execution, a doctor examining her supposedly offered to tell the French authorities that she was pregnant, but she declined.
This issue was a HUGE 1 week kerfufell during the 2000 Presidentail Campaign. Asked by Tim Russert if a Pregnant Woman should be executed – Gore hesitated & demurred – and all Hell broke loose. The result I think is summed up in a kind of Bipartisan Way
Anyway in Theory, The U.S. is Treaty bound not to execute pregnant women (counterintuitively it is the Republicans who argue here that this treaty is binding by the Feds on the States – while the States (Blue) may argue, theoretically, it does not – odd Washington politics here)
The Treaty in Question is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)
Article 6(5) states, “Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.”
The U.S. entered a partial reservation to Article 6(5), which reads, “The United States reserves the right, subject to its Constitutional constraints, to impose capital punishment on any person (other than a pregnant woman) duly convicted under existing or future laws permitting the imposition of capital punishment, including such punishment for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.” [italics added for emphasis] Thus, within the reservation itself, the U.S. bound itself not to permit the execution of any woman who carries an unborn child. Congress has constitutional authority to explicitly apply this treaty obligation to the states.
‘The good news is that we can alleviate your post-partum depression.’
"Currently, there are no pregnant women on death row, and since many state death houses keep prisoners strictly segregated, even denying “contact” visits, the prospect of a prisoner becoming pregnant seems slight.
In fact, however, death row prisoners engaging in intimate relations is not that unusual, and there are two well-known recent cases involving death row inmates and sexual intimacy. In 1993, an Alabama appellate judge rejected a clemency petition by Judith Ann Neeley, condemned to death for the kidnap-murder of a 13-year-old girl, despite allegations that her counsel had engaged in “jailhouse games” to “keep her spirits up” in which he hugged, kissed, and “nibbled” her. The judge found the charges “speculative,” and said they did not adversely affect Neeley’s representation. Last year, Neeley’s sentence was commuted.
In a 1998 case, Marianne Marxkors, the attorney for Reginald Powell, condemned to die for his part in a gangland fight in St. Louis in 1986, revealed she had sex with the defendant in a holding cell at the state circuit court building. And on the day Powell’s death sentence was handed down, Marxkors said she again made love to Powell in a court holding room.
The most notorious incident involving death row sex involves the rumored fathering of a child by serial killer Ted Bundy during a contact visit before he went to the electric chair in Florida. "