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Ala. Inmate Files Lawsuit Seeking Abortion

July 23, 2015 — The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday filed a lawsuit against Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton (R) on behalf of an Alabama jail inmate seeking an abortion, the TimesDaily reports.

According to the TimesDaily, a hearing in the case is scheduled for July 27. Randall Marshall, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said the case is the first of its kind to be filed in Alabama. However, he said similar lawsuits have taken place in other states.

Lawsuit Details

Marshall said the inmate, who is listed as Jane Doe, is requesting a "furlough or supervised transportation" from Lauderdale County Jail to Huntsville for the procedure.

According to the lawsuit, the inmate said she learned of her pregnancy before going to jail. After her incarceration, she took a pregnancy test that confirmed her pregnancy, and she asked for transportation to obtain an abortion. On July 10, she submitted a formal written request to Singleton asking for transportation. According to the inmate, Singleton denied the request on July 13, informing her that she needed to get a court order instructing him to transport her.

Meanwhile, Singleton contends he did not "deny" her request for an abortion but was following longstanding departmental policy. "We have never denied anyone an elective surgery or procedure, but they must get a court order," he said, adding, "This is our first request for this type of procedure, but it would not matter. Any request for an elective procedure must have a court order."

However, Marshall said ACLU stands by its position that the inmate should not have to obtain a court order for a "constitutional procedure she has a right to." The lawsuit states that the inmate has a constitutional right to an abortion, and denying it would be considered "cruel and unusual punishment of a prisoner" (Smith, TimesDaily, 7/22).