LINCOLN, Neb. – Following an emergency lawsuit from the ACLU of Nebraska, a woman in custody at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women has received the abortion care she was previously denied by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.
The emergency civil rights lawsuit filed on the woman’s behalf last week challenged prison officials’ refusal to transport her to a local healthcare provider for the procedure. The lawsuit argued officials were violating the woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and forcing her to remain pregnant against her will.
Almost immediately after the filing, state officials reversed course and agreed to enter a court order requiring prison staff to transport the woman for an abortion and any necessary follow-up appointments. A U.S. District Court judge signed the order on Monday, April 12.
ACLU of Nebraska Legal and Policy Counsel Scout Richters said the law is clear.
“Our client received the time-sensitive care she needed and that is guaranteed by law,” Richters said. “Although this swift reversal won’t undo the harm caused by weeks of obstruction, I hope it prevents such a blatant violation of rights from ever happening again.”
Brigitte Amiri, deputy director at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said the prison officials’ earlier refusal to allow access to abortion violated decades of precedent affirming the right to abortion continues during incarceration.
"We're relieved our client was finally able to get the care she needs — and that she is constitutionally entitled to receive — but it should not have taken legal action to get this result. Prisons and jails should remember that abortion is a right, including for those who are incarcerated."
The lawsuit will be dismissed within the week as it’s no longer necessary to ensure care.