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Woman Sues Over Terror-Filled Birth at Denver County Jail

Diana Sanchez says she was forced to labor and deliver alone in her cell
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2019 7:26 AM CDT
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This July 31, 2018 photo shows Diana Sanchez, an inmate about to give birth alone in her Denver jail cell.   (Killmer, Lane & Newman/Denver County Jail via AP)

(Newser) – A Colorado woman says she was forced to give birth alone without medical assistance in a dirty cell at the Denver County Jail, even as nurses milled about. Diana Sanchez's lawsuit claims she delivered a baby boy at 10:44am on July 31, 2018, nearly six hours after alerting deputies that she was in labor. Sanchez—jailed two weeks earlier after writing a check from her sister's bank account, per USA Today—says deputies and on-site Denver Health nurses knew of her contractions and that her water had broken by 9:43am. Yet they "callously made her labor alone for hours," reads a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, going only so far as to order a van to take Sanchez to the hospital while knowing it wouldn't be available until all new detainees were booked—a multi-hour process, per the Denver Post.

Surveillance video shows a nurse offering aid only after the baby was delivered. It was another 30 minutes before Sanchez and the boy were taken to a hospital, where Sanchez says staff told her she "could have bled to death." "They put my son's life at risk," she previously told KDVR. "Nobody cared." A sheriff's rep says an internal investigation found deputies "took the appropriate actions under the circumstances and followed the relevant policies and procedures," though "policy has since been clarified that when an inmate is in labor, an emergency ambulance will be called." Sanchez, however, hopes to hold to account those who caused "a day of unnecessary terror, pain, and humiliation that continues to cause her ongoing emotional trauma," per the suit. It names the city and county of Denver, the Denver Health Medical Center, and six individuals. (Read more lawsuit stories.)

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