DUBLIN (AP) — A Northern California sheriff’s office will no longer require women arrested and booked into the county jail to undergo a pregnancy test under the terms of a settlement announced on Wednesday.
As part of the settlement, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office also agreed to inform inmates that the test is optional and have any tests that are requested performed by medical staff, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said.
The group challenged the testing requirement in a lawsuit last year against the sheriff’s office on behalf of women who said it was humiliating, invasive and offensive. The urine test was required of women under the age of 60, though one of the women who sued was 69 when she took it, said Phyllida Burlingame, reproductive justice policy director at the ACLU of Northern California.
A judge had required the test in response to a lawsuit alleging women inmates were not receiving adequate prenatal care, Sheriff’s Sgt. J.D. Nelson said. The county’s goal was to protect women’s reproductive health.
Burlingame said the goal was laudable, but the county went too far. “People in custody have a right to decide what types of medical care and testing they want to submit to,” she said.
San Francisco has an optional pregnancy testing policy, and the ACLU has not confirmed that any other counties in California are requiring the test, Burlingame said.