Supreme Court Declines to Review Arizona Prison’s Abortion Policy

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal from an Arizona county sheriff in a case concerning abortion rights for incarcerated women.

The case involves a Maricopa County Jail policy, which only permitted prison officials to transport women seeking abortion care if they had obtained a court order, even though prisoners are regularly transported without a court order for all other necessary medical care.

In May 2004, a pregnant inmate, represented by the ACLU, challenged the prison’s policy. In August 2005, the Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County struck down the jail’s policy and held that it violated women’s reproductive rights and served “no legitimate penological purpose.” In January 2007, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld that decision, and in September of last year the Arizona Supreme Court refused to review the case.

“Today’s announcement puts an end to Maricopa County prison officials’ blatant disregard of the law and failure to ensure that prisoners get the health care they need,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “It’s the end of the road for Sheriff Arpaio’s campaign against reproductive freedom.”

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