Inmate Complains Prison Officials Didn’t Help Her Abort Her Baby

State   |   Erin Parfet   |   Dec 20, 2016   |   4:22PM   |   Indianapolis, Indiana

A former Indiana inmate filed a complaint in the Indianapolis federal court recently that accuses prison officials of denying her access to an abortion, reports.

The woman, known in court records as “Jane Doe,” said the Indiana Women’s Prison did not take her to an abortion facility until her pregnancy had progressed enough that the facility would not complete the procedure, according to court records.

Doe said she was seeking the abortion prior to her incarceration in January 2016 due to complications with previous pregnancies. Doe said she found out that she was pregnant just a few days before she was incarcerated but was not able to schedule an abortion in time.

While incarcerated, Doe said she told the prison that she wanted an abortion, but she claims that they did not take her to an abortion facility until it was too late.

Doe said “she was told she would need to prepay $1,000 for the cost of transportation and guards to travel to an abortion provider, in addition to the cost of the procedure itself,” according to the report.

According to the complaint, she was 14 weeks pregnant when arrangements were made for her transport to an abortion facility. However, the abortion facility did not perform abortions past 13 weeks and 6 days, so she could not have the abortion, the report continues.

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“DOC employees began treating Ms. Doe as if she was going to carry the pregnancy to term,” the lawsuit states. “They moved Ms. Doe off the top bunk, placed her on the ‘pregnancy diet’ at meal time and provided a prenatal care visit at the Indiana Women’s Prison.”

Doe’s lawsuit also cites her belief that it is “illegal” to require inmates to prepay for the costs of the abortion procedure as well as the transportation and staff costs.

According to the report, she did carry her unborn child to term.

In similar cases, prisons cited the liabilities associated with transporting the prisoner to the abortion facility, the Washington Post reports. Other concerns included prisoner escape, lost prisoner guard salaries, and risk of injury whether to the prisoner or prison employees. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio described the taxpayer funding involved in transporting prisoners to facilities for abortions, and compensating staff for lost time as concerns, previously reported.

In the 1977 Maher v. Roe case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state funding of abortions is not mandatory but optional, and that state funding may be used to encourage childbirth rather than abortion.