A federal judge Monday granted a Nebraska prison inmate’s emergency request for an abortion, ordering state prison officials to transport her to a clinic Tuesday so she can have the procedure.
The state had refused the inmate’s request, prompting the woman — identified as “Jane Roe” — to file a federal civil rights lawsuit Friday.
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon, in an order filed Monday morning, directed state prison officials to transport Roe to the Lincoln Planned Parenthood clinic Monday to complete a pre-abortion, “informed consent” counseling session required by state law and then return her to the clinic for an abortion Tuesday.
The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, in a settlement agreement with the ACLU of Nebraska, which filed the lawsuit, agreed to provide the transportation. But the Attorney General’s Office stipulated that the compromise did not mean the state agreed that the inmate’s medical rights had been violated.
Scout Richters, legal and policy counsel for the ACLU, said the organization is optimistic that Roe can obtain the time-sensitive care she needs and is “guaranteed by law.”
“Right now, we’re focused on making sure that’s what happens,” Richters said.
Roe, an inmate at the state’s women’s prison in York, became pregnant weeks before entering prison in February, according to her mother.
Roe, in her lawsuit, had argued that if she missed the Tuesday appointment at the clinic, she might be denied the right to have an abortion because the Lincoln clinic only does the procedure for women up to 16 weeks and six days. She was 15 weeks and three days pregnant Friday, according to the lawsuit.
The ACLU of Nebraska argued that courts have upheld an inmate’s right to access to a legal abortion for more than 50 years and that the state was violating the woman’s civil rights. Her family, the lawsuit said, had offered to pay all costs associated with the procedure, transportation and security.
Bataillon ordered Roe to deliver a $355 cashier’s check to the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office by 10 a.m. Monday, to cover those costs.
Gov. Pete Ricketts, at a press conference Monday, declined to comment when asked if he was involved in the decision to deny the inmate transportation and if he had something to say about the resolution of the dispute.