Woman Sues Tennessee Sheriff for $1.5 Million for Denying Abortion While Incarcerated

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee woman who had been arrested on robbery and murder conspiracy charges two years ago has sued her local sheriff for $1.5 million dollars for allegedly denying her an abortion while she was incarcerated.

According to the lawsuit, Kei’Choura Cathey, 29, discovered she was with child weeks after the arrest and told Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland via her attorney that she desired an abortion.

Rowland advised that the state could not provide funding for the abortion unless it was “medically necessary to save the mother’s life or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.”

He told WTVF-TV this week that he counseled with his command staff and medical team on the matter, and since corrections policy states that voluntary procedures must be covered by the inmate, Cathey would have to pay for her own abortion.

“I brought in my command staff and medical team to research guidelines,” Rowland said. “We felt this was a voluntary procedure, which we do have guidelines for.”

He stated, however, that he had offered to accommodate Cathey outside of payment.

“We were going to offer transportation to and from,” Rowland outlined. “We even tried to help this resident get a lower bond so she could go and take care of her business.”

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According to reports, Cathey’s bond, which was originally set at one million dollars, was lowered three times down to $8,000. Cathy needed to post 10 percent, or $800, to be released.

But as bond was not posted until more than six months into her pregnancy, Cathy was now past the legal abortion limit in Tennessee and could not lawfully end her baby’s life. She gave birth last April.

Now, Cathy is suing since she wasn’t able to abort her child while in prison. She is seeking $1.5 million in damages, and asserts that the denial was tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment and infringes on her Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights.

As previously reported, in an introductory lecture to his course on obstetrics in 1854, Philadelphia Dr. Hugh Lennox Hodge explained that if a woman were to come to a medical doctor in pursuit of an abortion, “he must, as it were, grasp the conscience of his weak and erring patient and let her know in language not to be misunderstood that she is responsible to her Creator for the life of the being within her.”

“So low, gentleman, is the moral sense of community on this subject. So ignorant are even the greater number of individuals, that even mothers in many instances shrink not at the commission of this crime, but will voluntarily destroy their own progeny, in violation of every natural sentiment, and in opposition to the laws of God and man,” he said.

“The procuring abortion is ‘a base and unmanly act,’” Hodge also said, quoting in part text from a court ruling of his day. “It is a crime against the natural feelings of man, against the welfare and safety of females, against the peace and prosperity of society, against the divine command ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ It is murder.”

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