On September 29, 2012, Julie Bilotta, 26, was locked up in a cage in Ottowa while awaiting trial on drug charges. She was also eight months pregnant. When she complained that she was feeling labor pains, the jail nurse took her vitals and told her she had indigestion.
She was returned to her cell and continued to complain of intensifying contractions. Eventually she was moved to an isolated cell for “making too much noise.”
The guard who moved her reportedly told Bilotta that she “shouldn’t have become pregnant if she couldn’t deal with pain and it would only get worse when the “real” labour began.”
It wasn’t until the nurse noticed a baby’s foot dangling outside Bilotta’s body that she called for paramedics. The baby was breech and there was no time to get to a hospital before the birth. Paramedics assisted Bilotta in her delivery and then transferred her to a local hospital for a blood transfusion because she had lost so much blood.
While the baby Gionni was small and premature– just five and a half pounds– she was fortunately born healthy. But things could have been much worse.
Bilotta’s mother later spoke with reporters about her daughter’s treatment in jail. “When you scream in pain for, I don’t know, nine hours and nobody believes you and nobody helps you … and nobody even calls a doctor in to check her or brings her to the hospital,” she said. “They shouldn’t be treated like animals — or worse.”
A complaint has been filed with the College of Nurses of Ontario and to the Ombudsman of Ontario.