Abortion is legal.
But what do you do if you are at the mercy of someone who doesn't really care that you want an abortion, or, even worse, doesn't want you to have one?
There are many places where access to an abortion is difficult, if not close to impossible, like rural areas with no abortion provider, states with repressive abortion laws and jails and prisons.
The ACLU of Montana recently went to bat for one woman who needed an abortion but was unable to get one because she was incarcerated in a Montana county jail.
Shortly after being jailed, the woman realized that she was pregnant. She immediately told her custodian that she wanted an abortion and needed to see an OB-GYN doctor. Her custodian set up an appointment with a doctor, who, our inmate learned at her appointment, does not perform abortions.
The doctor suggested that she contact Planned Parenthood. But the woman's custodian only responded that the she would “see what she could do.”
Weeks went by during which time she was transferred to another county facility without seeing anyone from Planned Parenthood.
As we all know, the sooner an abortion is preformed, the safer it is. But this woman continued to face obstructions.
She requested that her new custodian make an appointment for her. Still, nothing was done.
Finally she told her public defender who contacted us.
Says ACLU of Montana Legal Director Jon Ellingson: "Within less than two weeks of receiving her intake complaint we successfully obtained the medical services that she was entitled to, coordinating with Planned Parenthood, the Department of Corrections and the Office of the Public Defender. I was gratified to see that the legal department could take a problem that required prompt resolution and see it through to a quick and successful conclusion."
All women have the right to medical care, including abortion care, even if they are in jail or prison.