By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A Texas sheriff who refused to transport a female inmate to an abortion clinic is being accused of violating the woman’s constitutional rights by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The Star-Telegram is reporting that Larry Fowler, sheriff of Parker County, Texas, recently received a letter from the ACLU questioning his refusal to transport an inmate for an abortion.
“Pregnant women do not lose their Fourteenth Amendment right to have an abortion as a result of incarceration,” wrote ACLU attorney Lisa Graybill. While counties have no obligation to pay for the services, they do have to provide access, she said.
Fowler told the Star-Tribune that he was “a little bit flabbergasted” by the ACLU letter and doesn’t believe his department was compelled to help her obtain an abortion.
“It was her right, and on any given day she could have made bond and gone on her way,” Fowler said. “… My personal feeling is I don’t feel like the taxpayers of Parker County would think much of their sheriff spending taxpayer money to take people to abortion clinics. I don’t think they would want me to even entertain that notion.”
John Forrest, an attorney for the county, is exploring the issue but says they have no plans for writing any new policies because he believes Parker County is following the law.
County officials also say the issue is moot since the woman, whose case was adjudicated shortly after she made the request, is no longer in jail. She has since obtained an abortion without government assistance.
However, Graybill threatened legal action should a similar incident occur.
“The purpose of our letter [to John Forrest] is to put Parker County on notice that any future restrictions on women’s reproductive health care will be challenged in court,” Graybill said in a statement.
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