A group of about 25 protesters gathered outside the constituency office of Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur upset with how an inmate was treated while giving birth in an Ottawa jail cell.
The group, which calls itself Mother and Baby Coalition for Justice, is supporting 26-year-old Julie Bilotta who gave birth to a boy Sept. 29 at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.
Bilotta, a resident of Cornwall, Ont., currently remains in the jail as her mother cares for the new mother's son, Gionni.
There was uproar last week from her family and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa, a women's rights advocacy group, about the conditions under which she gave birth.
Bilotta said guards ignored her cries for hours before her son was born in a segregated cell.
Mother remains in jail
The baby was also born one month early and allegedly in a breech position, which means he came out with the feet or buttocks first instead of the head first.
In a telephone interview with CBC News, Bilotta said she was also returned to a segregated cell after spending three days in hospital.
She said she has not held her baby since the ambulance ride to the hospital immediately after the birth.
The ministry said it would review the incident, but protesters said they are upset over the story. They said the incident represents a larger issue of how women are treated while incarcerated.
Protesters held up bags of diapers to symbolize their concerns.
Bail hearing set for Thursday
Bilotta is scheduled for a bail hearing Thursday on charges of:
- Use, trafficking or possession of a forged document.
- Accessory after the fact to the commission of offences.
- Failure to comply with bail conditions.
She also has three convictions on her criminal record. Her first came in November 2010 when she was found guilty of theft.
She was then convicted in July 2011 of breaching bail conditions from that first conviction, as well as uttering threats.
A number of past charges against Bilotta have either been withdrawn or dismissed.