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Advocates call for inquiry after woman gives birth to baby in Ottawa jail cell

OTTAWA – The Elizabeth Fry Society is calling for a public inquiry into health-care services provided to inmates after a woman gave birth in an Ottawa jail cell without the help of a doctor.

The group’s director, Bryonie Baxter, says a systemic review of the prison system is needed to begin changing a culture that sees inmates treated as less than human.

Julie Bilotta, a 26-year-old woman from Cornwall, Ont., gave birth to a boy Sept. 29 on the floor of a cell at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

Baxter says Bilotta’s screams for help while she was going into labour were ignored for hours and paramedics were only called after a baby’s foot was seen coming out of the woman in a breech birth.

Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario’s minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, says an internal investigation is looking into the incident to determine whether proper procedures were followed.

The minister adds that pregnant inmates should expect to receive the same level of care as women in the general population.

Baxter has also formally complained about the incident to the College of Nurses of Ontario and to the Ontario ombudsman.

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