Judge orders Nebraska to transport prisoner for abortion

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 3:34 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A federal judge has granted a Nebraska prisoner’s request for an abortion and ordered state officials to transport her to a clinic so she can get the procedure, but the inmate will have to pay for the procedure herself and cover the state’s costs to transport and guard her.

Prison officials had previously rejected the woman’s request for an abortion, prompting her to file a civil rights lawsuit on Friday with support from the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska.

In the lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the plaintiff goes by 22-year-old Jane Roe. By her calculations, she is 16 weeks pregnant.

Her attorneys argued the courts have ruled that prison does not prevent incarcerated people from accessing abortion. Jane Roe is serving a 26-month sentence which began seven weeks again at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York, Nebraska.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon ordered prison officials to transport the inmate to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Lincoln for “informed consent” counseling on Monday, as required by state law, and back to the clinic on Tuesday to have the procedure done.

Her attorneys claim her abortion request was denied because Nebraska Corrections had a policy where they would freeze large deposits made into an inmate’s account for three weeks, money she would use to pay for the abortion. By then, she says, it would be too late for the procedure.

It’s a case many outside organizations have been following.

“We know there are better options out there. That we can love them both, the mother and the unborn child,” said Nate Grasz of Nebraska Family Alliance.

“We’ve had a lot of phone calls, emails, and text messages coming into our office of people asking if something can be done. And also that they are standing by and ready to help. They’d be willing to adopt the child or pay for medical expenses, delivery fees, and everything that goes into that,” said Nate Grasz.

Nebraska prohibits abortion after a patient reaches 22 weeks.

It’s important to note that the ACLU attorneys for Jane Roe and the Nebraska Attorney Generals Office came to this agreement. The temporary restraining order also explains that all medical and transportation costs are paid for by the inmate and not by the Nebraska Dept of Corrections and that the inmate will voluntarily drop the case later this month.

Investigative Reporter and Weekend Anchor Brian Mastre contributed to this story.

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