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Judge Orders Sheriff Arpaio to Stop Pre-Charging Prisoners for Abortions

The American Civil Liberties Union just won a court order against Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona, who was illegally pre-charging female prisoners hundreds of dollars for the costs of being securely transported to medical clinics to obtain abortions.

As I explained yesterday, Arpaio, the Maricopa County sheriff who’s under investigation by the Justice Department for civil rights violations, had been requiring female prisoners in his jurisdiction to pay in advance all the costs associated with getting to a health clinic to obtain an abortion — specifically, transportation and security costs. The costs were $300 per day, and so could reach $900 if complications required the patient to stay at the clinic for three days. The costs could be difficult for many women in prison to come up with at all, let alone on short notice. And if they couldn’t get the money, they couldn’t obtain an abortion at all.

So the ACLU, which had sued Arpaio back in 2005 for denying women the right to get an abortion in his county at all without a court order, took him to court over the latest obstacles he’d imposed.

The hearing was this morning, and ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri, who argued the case, notified me that the judge ruled from the bench in the ACLU’s favor. I’ll post more details and a copy of the order as soon as I get it.

This post has been updated.

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