Jailed Woman Denied Abortion Access Sues For $1.5M

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The year in reproductive rights is off to a dangerous start.

First there was U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor's late-2016 ruling that your doctor can indeed refuse to treat you if you've had an abortion (or, just for some bonus discrimination, if you're transgender). Now, The Washington Post reports that a Tennessee woman claims she was denied access to an abortion while she was in jail — violating her legal right to choose. The woman is suing law enforcement officials for $1.5 million.

According to the lawsuit, when Kei'Choura Cathey was arrested in 2015 on conspiracy murder and robbery charges (she and some others stole from a local man and shot him; the man survived), she did not know she was pregnant. When she found out weeks later and requested abortion access, Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland refused. He explained that the only way he would provide Cathey with transportation or funding for this healthcare service would be if the procedure were "medically necessary to save the mother's life or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest," the lawsuit states. Cathey gave birth a few months later.

Abortion access, while already contentious across the states in general, becomes even more difficult within the murky world of jail and prison policies. The Post reports that the ACLU has only identified 21 states that even offer policies to address the issue of abortion for inmates. An additional 12 have general prenatal care policies for inmates, but ignore abortion.

Cathey's complaint states that the denial of her request constituted cruel and unusual punishment, and “deliberate indifference to a serious medical need."

With stories like Cathey's becoming more frequent, if you haven't already joined the masses contributing to the recent 900% increase in demand for IUDs, now may be a good time.
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