A Woman in Jail Says She Had to Chew Off Her Umbilical Cord After Giving Birth Alone

Kelsey Love also ripped open her mattress and climbed inside with her infant son after giving birth, according to a lawsuit.
February 22, 2021, 5:03pm
Empty prison cell
Empty prison cell (Getty Images)

Kelsey Love screamed for 40 minutes. At eight months pregnant, she lay naked on her cell floor and, through tears, cried that “something’s wrong,” that her baby was “coming out.” She indicated that she was having contractions and begged to be taken to the doctor.

None of it was enough to convince the employees of Franklin County Regional Jail in Kentucky to get her medical help, according to a 2019 lawsuit filed by Love, who gave birth alone in her cell in May 2017. But last week, she reached a $200,000 settlement with Franklin County and numerous jail staffers, according to the Lexington Leader-Herald.

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On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove approved the settlement between Kelsey Love and the Franklin County Regional Jail. Although public court records don’t spell out the exact terms of the settlement, Love’s attorney, Aaron J. Bentley, told the Leader-Herald that Love would receive the $200,000 payment.

“We certainly view it as a vindication of her rights,” he told the paper.

Love was eight months pregnant when she was jailed on May 14, 2017, after being arrested for driving under the influence. When she was booked, she told jail officials that she’d recently used meth and heroin, according to a motion filed by Bentley. Love also revealed that she was eight months pregnant.

Under the jail’s policies, Love’s pregnancy meant that staffers should check on her every 10 minutes, according to Love’s lawsuit. By the early morning of May 16, it was clear something was wrong, according to Bentley’s motion. When a deputy checked on her, Love was lying naked on the floor, crying. That’s when Love told the deputy that her baby was coming, per Bentley’s motion.

The deputy called a nurse but didn’t say that Love was likely having contractions, according to the motion. The nurse told the deputy to observe Love and call her if anything changed. In an incident report, the deputy didn’t mention Love’s suggestions that she was labor, but instead said it was unclear whether Love was in withdrawal or possibly still intoxicated, per the motion.

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Another jail staffer heard Love scream “somebody help me” multiple times, but no one checked on Love for about an hour, per Bentley’s motion. At just past 8 a.m., a nurse and a jail staffer finally checked on her, and found what Bentley called “a large amount of blood smeared across the cell.” Love had given birth.

She’d also ripped open her mattress and climbed inside with her infant son, according to the motion. Love said she’d chewed off the umbilical cord, per the motion.

“Despite her obvious condition, no defendant provided her medical care or attention,” Love’s  lawsuit alleges. “Despite her obvious condition, no defendant requested that a medical professional provide Love medical care or attention.”

Attorneys for the jail employees and the county have denied all wrongdoing, saying there’s no evidence the employees knew that Love was in labor before discovering her holding her newborn son. 

The jail’s insurance company will pay the $200,000 settlement, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. A lawyer for the county and employees told the outlet that they didn’t admit fault in the settlement.

“The defendants always have and will continue to strive to provide the best medical care to all persons at the Franklin County Regional Jail,” said Paul C. Harnice, the county and employees’ lawyer. 

Love has now been sober for two years, Bentley told the Lexington Herald-Leader. Although she still has night terrors from her labor and delivery in jail, he said that she’s “doing great.”