(CN) – A formerly incarcerated woman claims Indiana prison officials delayed and blocked her request for an abortion, only transporting her to a clinic when she was too far along to terminate the pregnancy.
The woman, identified only as Jane Doe in her civil rights complaint filed Friday in Indianapolis federal court, was jailed for six months at Indiana Women’s Prison beginning Jan. 20 of this year.
She found out she was pregnant just days before her incarceration, but was unable to get an abortion before her prison term began.
Doe claims she wanted an abortion due to her prior pregnancy complications. She had an emergency C-section surgery with her first pregnancy, and during the following two pregnancies she went into premature labor.
Immediately upon her arrival at the prison, she told Department of Corrections staff she wanted an abortion, but says she was told she would need to prepay $1,000 for the cost of transportation and guards to travel to an abortion provider, in addition to the cost of the procedure itself.
“DOC employees began treating Ms. Doe as if she was going to carry the pregnancy to term,” the lawsuit states. “They moved Ms. Doe off the top bunk, placed her on the ‘pregnancy diet’ at meal time and provided a prenatal care visit at the Indiana Women’s Prison.”
Doe says that prison staff misled her about her right to see an abortion provider so that the progress of her pregnancy would eliminate the possibility.
If that was indeed their aim, they were successful.
With the help of counsel, Doe managed to get transported to an abortion clinic, but by that time she was already 14 weeks pregnant. The clinic did not provide abortions past 13 weeks and six days, she says.
As with her prior pregnancies, Doe experienced painful complications from carrying the child to term, according to the complaint.
She claims she was hospitalized several times due to vomiting and dehydration, suffered constant urinary tract infections exacerbated by prison rules concerning bathroom breaks for prisoners, and needed injections to prevent preterm labor, which caused her to break out in fevers and rashes.
“Any delay in Ms. Doe visiting an abortion provider is entirely the fault of the defendants. The plaintiff made repeated and clear requests to receive an abortion,” the complaint states.
The woman claims it was illegal for prison staff to condition her access to an abortion on the prepayment of costs for transportation, vehicles and guards.
She seeks an unspecified amount of damages and is represented by Kathrine D. Jack in Greenfield, Ind.
The Indiana Department of Corrections did not respond Monday to a request for comment made over the weekend.
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