FLORENCE — Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly said if the parental rights of a pregnant Lauderdale County inmate are terminated, she will not have the right to ask for an abortion.
“Our position, if the termination for parental rights is granted, is that (the mother) would not have standing to obtain the abortion,” Connolly said Tuesday.
Court officials said the issue is expected to be taken up Friday in juvenile court, which is closed to the public.
Authorities said a guardian ad litem has been appointed to represent the unborn baby in the hearing on the petition.
Court officials said the guardian ad litem is an attorney appointed by a judge to pursue what is in the best interest of the child.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama filed a lawsuit on behalf of a pregnant Lauderdale County inmate seeking a temporary restraining order against the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office to allow the woman to have an abortion.
“It is her constitutional right,” said Randall Marshall, legal director of the ACLU of Montgomery.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said he has not denied the inmate’s request for an abortion but told her she would have to follow the department’s policy of getting a court order to have an elective, non-medical emergency procedure.
Following a Monday hearing in federal court in Huntsville, U.S. District Judge Aldual Kallon said he would issue a ruling Friday.
Connolly said during the hearing he was opposed to the ACLU’s request, and that he had filed a petition to seek the termination of parental rights.
He pointed out that his opposition to the ACLU’s request was because the inmate is facing a charge of chemical endangerment of a child.
Connolly said an Alabama Supreme Court ruling in 2013 stated chemical endangerment cases apply to an unborn child.
“It was in that ruling that the (Alabama Supreme Court) said it is the policy of the state of Alabama to protect unborn and born children in Alabama,” Connolly said.
Marshall said the state court proceedings, no matter what the ruling is, will not affect his client’s “constitutional right to an abortion.”
“Even if the (termination of parental rights) petition goes forward, it cannot override a favorable decision from Judge Kallon,” Marshall said. “We will work to ensure that (the inmate) gets the health care she needs.”
The inmate maintains she is in the first trimester of her pregnancy. She said in the lawsuit she learned of her pregnancy before she was sent to jail.
The sheriff’s attorney, Ken Webb, of Birmingham, filed a motion to have the ACLU’s temporary restraining order dismissed. He said the Sheriff’s Department policy should be followed.
Marshall contends there is no need for a policy when an abortion is his client’s constitutional right.