Court hearing set for Alabama inmate who wants abortion

AP News
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Posted: Jul 22, 2015 12:18 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge is considering a lawsuit filed by an Alabama inmate who wants out of jail temporarily so she can get an abortion.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Monday on behalf of a female inmate, identified only as Jane Doe, who is in the Lauderdale County jail.

The suit against Sheriff Rick Singleton asks that the woman be given a jail furlough or supervised transportation to Huntsville. The city, located about 75 miles from the jail, is the nearest location where women can receive the medical procedure.

U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon scheduled an emergency hearing on the request for Monday afternoon in Huntsville.

Court documents show the woman has been pregnant less than three months, and the Huntsville clinic's website says it provides abortions for women up to 21 weeks of pregnancy.

The woman, in a court document, said she has an appointment for counseling that is required before an abortion and is seeking money to pay for the procedure privately.

Singleton maintains a court order is required for any elective surgery, but the ACLU contends the woman shouldn't have to go to court since abortion is a legal right.

The inmate found out she was pregnant before she went to jail and tried to obtain an abortion but couldn't, according to the suit. In a court document filed with the case, the woman said she is in her first trimester of pregnancy and doesn't know how long she will be in jail.

"I am very distraught, and do not want to be forced to carry this pregnancy to term," said the woman in the statement.

A jail memo from Singleton, filed in court by the inmate's attorneys, said that all non-emergency medical needs are handled by jail staff. Singleton said an abortion "does not constitute a medical emergency," and court order is required for the woman to obtain one.

The ACLU's legal director in Alabama, Randall Marshall, said he was unaware of such a lawsuit being filed previously in Alabama.