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Inmates Can Get Abortion Without Court Order

Inmates at the County Jail at Las Colinas will be able to obtain abortions without getting a court order first, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman said Friday in announcing a change in the old policy that required women to pay for the surgery and other expenses.

Lt. Alan Fulmer said the new policy, which became effective this week, will also make it possible for the county to pick up the cost of the procedure for women who cannot afford it. Under the previous policy, an inmate had to obtain a court order and pay for the abortion and the time incurred by deputies assigned to accompany her to the hospital or clinic.

The change was necessary in order to bring the county and Sheriff’s Department into compliance with existing law and court decisions, Fulmer said.

“We’re keeping in line with court decisions on abortion. A review of current court cases showed that we were not in compliance with the law,” he said. " . . . Under the old policy, we viewed abortion more like elective surgery . . . and not recognized as something that we had to pay for.”

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According to Fulmer, abortion demands have not been a major issue at the women’s jail. A quick check of its medical records showed that, last year, authorities received only one request for an abortion, Fulmer said, and that inmate decided not to go through with it.

Counselors will be made available to inmates who request abortions, he said, adding that the official jail policy will not be to encourage abortions, but to make inmates aware of all of the options available to them.


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