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Court Orders AZ Sheriff to Stop Forcing Prison Inmates to Pre-Pay for Abortions

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PHOENIX, AZ -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for tent-based jails and local immigration raids, is making headlines again--this time for making inmates pre-pay for the cost of abortions, including security and transportation.

Judge Robert Oberbilling ruled Tuesday that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) must stop making inmates pre-pay for their abortions. The ruling stems from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2005 in which the Court told Arpaio he could not prohibit inmates from getting abortions, and he could not require them to get a court order to receive an abortion. The ruling specified that inmates who request abortions must be able to receive them in a timely and safe manner.

Oberbilling ruled that MCSO has a right to obtain a reimbursement for costs but that the pre-payment requirement represents an unreasonable obstacle for inmates who want an abortion. Arpaio argues that MCSO cannot afford to give inmates abortions on credit. Costs usually range from $300 to $600.

The attorney representing MCSO says Arpaio is expected to appeal the decision.

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