Arizona Court Rules in Favor of Inmates’ Abortion Rights

An Arizona judge ordered Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio to end a requirement for inmates to prepay transportation and security costs prior to obtaining an abortion. A 2005 lawsuit struck down the Arpaio’s policy of prohibiting jail officials from transporting a prisoner for an abortion without a court order. However, Arpaio allegedly began requiring women to pre-pay for security and transportation costs associated with acquiring an abortion.

Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona, said in a statement, “The courts have already confirmed that Arizona prison officials cannot put up roadblocks to abortion care simply because they do not agree with the decision to end a pregnancy…It is time for Sheriff Arpaio to stop wasting taxpayer dollars to impose his own morality on women in his jails and to start upholding the law.”

The original policy that required a court order to access an abortion was challenged by an inmate in 2004. The ACLU sued and won on behalf of the women, “confirm[ing] [their] position that Arizona prison officials cannot ignore the medical needs of prisoners simply because they do not agree with the decision to end a pregnancy.” As part of the settlement, the sheriff agreed to allow female inmates access to have safe, timely, and legal abortions. The US Supreme Court rejected an appeal of the case in 2008.

According to the Washington Independent, it is likely that Sheriff Arpaio will appeal the ruling.


Feminist Daily Newswire 7/6/09; ACLU Press Release 10/20/09; Washington Independent 10/20/09

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