MILTON, Ontario, November 2, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An Ontario inmate who is seven months pregnant says she has been put into a small, cold cell with a diet of bread and water after refusing to undergo an “early induction” that would put her child’s life and health at risk.
Eva Donna Akinyi Okello was sentenced to eight months prison in September for practicing as a nurse illegally. She had served as a nurse in Kenya before she moved to Canada ten years ago.
In an interview with LifeSiteNews reporter Alissa Golob on Tuesday, Okello said a female doctor at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton has put her into segregation after Okello refused the doctor’s urgings that she undergo an “early induction” of her child, who is due December 15th.
After her conviction, Okello was first sent to a correctional facility in Hamilton, but was then moved to Vanier to accommodate her pregnancy.
When Okello arrived at Vanier she was seen by the female doctor, a European in her fifties, who told her life in prison and afterwards would be better if she underwent the procedure.
But Okello, who is a Catholic, repeatedly refused. According to her, the doctor said she could not “care less” what she did, but then had her sent to segregation, where she was put into a small, cold cell and only given bread and cold water.
Okello told Golob that about five days after she was originally sent to segregation, an elderly male doctor came upon her and asked her why she was in segregation. He said she did not belong there, and had her put back in the regular cell with the other inmates. There Okello said she was able to receive the special “pregnancy” diet - the same meal as the others except with a bit extra, such as an orange or apple that she could take back to her cell and eat later.
Then a few days after that, Okello was called back to see the original female doctor, who again urged her to undergo the “early induction.”
Okello refused and so on Friday, October 28th was sent back into segregation, where she remains today. According to Okello, the female doctor says she will remain there until she has her baby, for “safety” reasons.
But Okello says all the other female inmates have been very supportive, and have encouraged her to stand her ground against the doctor. On the other hand, in segregation she says she is malnourished, cold, and treated poorly.
Okello revealed her concerns to pro-life activist Linda Gibbons, a fellow inmate at Vanier who is imprisoned for praying outside abortion facilities in Toronto that are protected by an injunction banning pro-life activity.
Okello told LifeSiteNews that she is prepared to stay in segregation, saying it is the least she can do to give her baby life. But she worries that her baby will be malnourished and that her refusal to undergo the “early induction” will be counted against her and affect her sentencing. Currently she is scheduled to be released on March 17th.
Once she has her baby, the newborn will live with her father until Okello is released from prison.
LifeSiteNews called Vanier Centre for Women to get their side of the story, but was told that they could not comment, and that all questions would have to be put through the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. A spokesman at the ministry told LifeSiteNews that they cannot speak about individual cases, but insisted early inductions are not recommended in prisons without due cause.
“Early induction of labour in pregnancy would not be encouraged for inmates in custody unless there were sound indications for doing so,” spokesman Greg Flood told LifeSiteNews. “Decisions related to labour and delivery for inmates in our custody are made by the inmate, in collaboration with medical staff and, where feasible, the inmate’s community physician who will deliver the baby.”
Hon Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario’s Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
25 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Y6
Superintendent Donna Keating
Vanier Centre for Women
655 Martin St
Milton, ON L9T 5E6
Phone: 905-876-8300 ext. 7316
Tim Hudak, Opposition Leader
The Ontario PC Party
19 Duncan Street
Toronto, ON M5H 3H1