Tampa Rape Victim Sues After Jailer Refused Emergency Contraception Pill Due To Religious Beliefs

A federal judge has ruled that a Tampa rape victim known as R.W. can sue the Hillsborough County Sheriff after a jail guard refused to give her an emergency contraception pill because it was against her religious beliefs. Jail employee Michele Spinelli explained to R.W. that she would not give her the pill approved by a doctor because she viewed them to be a sin.

R.W.says she was raped on Jan. 27, 2007 and went to Tampa’s Rape Crisis Center where a doctor gave R.W. gave two anti-contraception pills. She took one as instructed and was supposed to take the other 12 hours later. However, a Tampa police officer discovered that she had a warrant out for her arrest and took her into custody. When the time came to take the second pill, Spinelli refused.
R.W. did not get pregnant but sued for the violation of her right to privacy and denial of equal protection.
U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich found the amended complaint to be sufficient to go to trial. In doing so, she found that “The single action of a final policy-maker can represent official government policy, even when the action is not meant to control later decisions.” The Sheriff allowed Spinelli to work at the jail without supervision or direction. Taking the allegations as true for the purposes of the motion, the court ruled that the lawsuit could proceed.

If true, the allegations could not be more disturbing. We have seen a debate over pharmacies and religious organizations opposed to supplying contraceptives. However, this is a state employee with a woman who is in custody. Had she given birth, it would have created a bizarre “wrongful birth” case where the defendant is the state. Even without a birth, if these allegations are true, this woman was put through a harrowing experience.

Source: Courthouse

94 thoughts on “Tampa Rape Victim Sues After Jailer Refused Emergency Contraception Pill Due To Religious Beliefs

  1. It would be a sin to give her the pill. But it was a sin to not give it to her. The first sin would get forgiven. The second one will not be. The Sinner will not get into heaven. She will not get into purgatory or limbo which is really a suburb of Saint Louis called Oakland. You see the second sin might result in a devil being born to the poor jailed woman. When the devil is born he will be laughing at jailor the rest of his life. The devil will do a lot of harm. The jailor is complicit in the birth of the devil. We dogs know these issues because we are all reincarnated from humanoids and sat through hours of interviews by Saint Peter awaiting our turn. We were good humans in the past life and hence Saint Peter let us come back as dogs. So take it from BarkinDog. That jailor is in a whole lot of trouble.

  2. I was going to say unbelievable but it is not. Some people in the US have become so enamored with their own beliefs that there is no room in their minds for compassion or a recognition that others have a right to their beliefs and a right not to be victimized in the name of another’s religious beliefs. A state employee with this type of belief who cannot or will not do their job should be fired or not hired at all. Believe what you want but it cannot intrude on your resposibities. Even more disturbing is that in this circumstance the rape victim was incarcerated and had no where else to turn. Is the state liable? It sure looks like it to me but it is good that the court allow the case to go forward .

  3. Sounds to me like the state pushing a particular religious conviction. That’s a no-no.

    Damn! We’re in Florida again. I’ve been a bit tired of the cold winters up north and so contemplated a move to Florida, at least during the winter. I no longer think that’s a good idea.

  4. The sheriff’s department should be raked over the coals on this. It is absolutely wrong for a jailer to refuse any prescribed medication to an inmate. Check your religious preferences at the door when you put on that badge.

  5. Hillsborough county jail has been in the news before. The fellow in this video is a victim, and has some pithy comments to say about his treatment and his opinion about their training:

  6. The order on the defendant’s motion to dismiss states that the person denying the MA pill was a contractor employee. I’m glad to see that this fact did not muddy the waters sufficiently to let the Sheriff, her boss, off the hook.

    The whole religious exemption trend is burdensome on a secular society. If you can’t do the job don’t apply IMO.

    It is again and perennially Florida- can we just saw that unfortunate spit of land off the country and set it adrift? In that way its literal status would reflect its figurative state.

    “Michele Spinelli (hereinafter”Spinelli”) worked
    at the jail for a private contractor, and”was charged with decisions involving the care of the
    Plaintiff, including whether or not to dispense the previously prescribed medication to the
    Plaintiff.” (Dkt. 16, atK36-37). Spinelli’s exact position and duties at the Jail are not clear
    from the complaint.”


  7. bettykath, we visited a friend in the Bradenton area for a few days a couple of months ago. Had the same idea: hey, what a great climate, lifestyle, maybe we should relocate here, etc.

    I’m afraid trying to locate in a place with an enlightened government and populace is a lost cause. There’s always some drawback. Of course, myself, being wonderful, would never offend anyone.😉

  8. I thought Spinelli’s job was to do what she was required t do with respect to inmates. Often, I believe, jailers are required to point out to the inmates that THEY personally are not jailing the inmates and THEY personally have nothing to do with the innocence or guilt of the inmates; their job is quite simple and it has defined borders. So where does the idea that, “I cannot do something that I don’t believe is morally perfect” come into Spinelli’s job description? If she hasn’t been fired and blacklisted for all LEO work, she definitely should be. How irresponsible, insubordinate and outrageous can you get? Would a guard who was a Christian Scientist be justified to withhold all medication from every inmate? Would an Orthodox Jewish guard be justified to refuse to serve non-kosher food?

  9. Add this to the deal in MN where a for profit jail refused to pay for an ambulance for an inmate who was seizing repeatedly and I think I have a cost cutting measure that will be a boon to state budgets and private jails across the country. Only hire Christan Scientists as guards! They can pray over sick or injured inmates at a surprisingly low cost.

    DANG! I probably should have gotten a copyright on that idea before I said it out loud.

  10. There are too many contractors in the incarceration business IMO as Ms. Spinelli and the lack of oversight by the Sheriff attest. Cheap labor, poor training, a meandering chain of command/control and a relentless emphasis on the bottom line is a horrible idea. There’s this today:

    “Xavius Scullark-Johnson, Prisoner, Dies After He’s Denied Health Care

    A prisoner was left in his urine-soaked cell to die after a nurse turned away an ambulance, even though he had suffered several seizures, according to documents obtained by the Star Tribune. …

    When a corrections officer later phoned the doctor after Scullark-Johnson’s condition seemed to worsen, the doctor advised the officer to call 911, documents said. But when an ambulance showed up to take Scullark-Johnson to a hospital, the nurse on duty, Denise Garin, turned it away. Scullark-Johnson was pronounced dead hours later.

    The Tribune notes that ambulance runs are “strictly monitored” in “an effort to cut costs” by Corizon Inc., the for-profit company contracted by the DOC to care for its prisoners.

    Berg said DOC has a contract with a private health care company “to help manage care in a cost-efficient manner while still complying with community standards of care.

    “Like any healthcare consumer may experience, this includes formularies, utilization review and managed care,” Berg said. “It should be noted that the DOC does not train staff to consider costs when responding to life-threatening emergencies.” ”


    A few days ago Krugman did an excellent article about privatizing New Jersey’s halfway houses:


  11. lotta – well to be honest it was sort of a reprise of my coast saving measures for health insurance companies. Since some people feel pharmacists should be allowed to decide what drugs they are willing to dispense some enterprising insurance company should pay to send a bunch of CSs to parm school & open a chain of drug stores. Then all they have to do is only pay for Rx at those stores & they save a bundle!

  12. lotta,

    Here’s a link to and an excerpt from a post I wrote last year:

    Who’s Minding the Kids?: Have Profits Distorted the Mission of Rehabilitating Inmates at Mississippi’s Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility?

    A few days ago, I was listening to All Things Considered on NPR while I was driving in my car. Host John Burnett was talking about an investigation into Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi. The prison facility for youthful offenders is being run by a private company called GEO Group. According to NPR, privatized prison services are a $3 billion dollar industry in this country—and GEO Group is our nation’s second largest for-profit prison operator.

    From NPR: “The Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU National Prison Project have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 13 inmates against the prison operator, GEO Group, the prison administration and state officials. The complaint describes rampant contraband brought in by guards, sex between female guards and male inmates, inadequate medical care, prisoners held inhumanely in isolation, guards brutalizing inmates and inmate-on-inmate violence that was so brutal it led to brain damage.”

    The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice began an investigation into some of these charges earlier this year. NPR says its own investigation has raised “the fundamental question of whether profits have distorted the mission of rehabilitating young inmates.”

    Walnut Grove, the nation’s largest juvenile prison, houses 1,200 boys and young men. It is the only facility that locks up thirteen-year-olds with 22-year-olds. The typical guard-to-inmate ratio is 1 officer to 10 or 12 juvenile prisoners. A state audit of the Walnut Grove facility showed a guard-to-inmate ratio of 1 to 60! Salaries for prison staff are reportedly the largest expenditure of a correctional budget. Evidently, cutting staff is a good way of cutting costs.

  13. “Only hire Christan Scientists as guards! They can pray over sick or injured inmates at a surprisingly low cost.” (frankly)

    Excellent idea as a cost cutter but then, Haldeman and Ehrlichman were both Christian Scientists and look how their prayers helped Nixon.

    Spinelli should write a quick note to Scalia … she sounds like a perfect fit for his office.

    I find the Judges’s words, “The single action of a final policy-maker can represent official government policy” particularly chilling for society as a whole.

  14. The person at the jail, I don’t know if they are a medical practitioner which might have some mitigating advantage to him/her individually, could have simply referred the administration of the pill to another person to give to the rape victim and all would have been compliant.

    In our state certain medical practitioners are allowed not to prescribe pregnancy terminating prescriptions if they have a moral objection to this, however another practitioner must be available to provide this service.

    For this I might imagine there would be the possibility of Qualified Immunity on behalf of the jail employee/contractor but it could be articulated that as an agent of the state, which has an absolute duty to provide the medicine, she could be held to be liable in that she recklessly and intentionally did not seek out the assistence of another person to perform the administration of the pills. I don’t know if he/she did or not.

    Ordinarily I take exception to many of the wrongful birth cases that we read about but in this case I believe it would have had merit.

    Again, with the judge’s ruling about the Final policy-maker has an interesting way out for the state. If an employee makes a bad decision with regard to a civil rights issue upon a citizen, the liability could be mitigated or even eliminated (if possible) by a subsequent correction by another employee that restores the citizen’s situation. I would hope that would be taken to heart by every elected official subject to this court’s jurisdiction. I have seen it many times where a gov’t official makes some bad decision and just continues down the road to ruin because they mistakenly believe there is no alternative but to press on with the violation of the rights because if they changed course to do the right thing, they believe it would be a de factor admission of guilt of their past wrongdoing.

  15. Woostie.

    With regard to the above video. Could this be a tie-in to the “Twinkie Defense” that is, “The Devil Dog made me do it”?

  16. Given the degree to which the notion of religious liberty has been twisted beyond recognition recently, this story, or a variation of it, was inevitable.

  17. “The single action of a final policy-maker can represent official government policy, even when the action is not meant to control later decisions.”
    I’m not sure I understand what the Judge was saying here?

  18. Woosty, my attempt at interpreting the judge’s words:

    Although the jail guard is not an “official govt policy-maker,” her decision not to give the medicine was pretty damn FINAL for the inmate concerned.

  19. Lrobby, The judge dismissed many of the charges. She also said that if the plaintiff prevailed her damages would probably amount to $1. I guess the anxiety of maybe being pregnant until her next period didn’t count.

    I find the judge’s signature, hmmm, interesting. The document seems to be about a 12.5. The E (for Elizabeth) is about 170! She sure thinks a lot of herself.

  20. Since when can a prison employee or contractor override the prescription of a medical doctor?? If she made this decision on her own, is she not practicing medicine without a license? This is the type of situation that will prevail if the radical right is allowed to push religion on all of us.

  21. really Malisha? so not only are my Federally secured civil rights being ‘kicked back’ to the State, now they are being ‘kicked back’ to a right-wing fundamentalist
    prison guard who is in the employ of a for profit corporation with what over-sight please? (despite the comforting addition of the ‘but this doesn’t have to be precedent’ clause?

    did I get it?

    do we really have to go all the way back to the civil war???? well, someone is making progress….

  22. raff, I once went off on a jailer. Told him that when he could show me a diploma with either MD or DO after his name, then and only then could he make medication decisions. Until that time, he had better give the inmate the medications my practice partner (a psychiatrist) had prescribed.

  23. Spinelli was a contractor and therefore, not under direct supervision of the Sheriff. If she were under the supervision of the sheriff, she would be an employee.

  24. Gene, a local nursing home lost a $5.2M lawsuit recently after they let a patient die in a fall and did not discover the body on the floor until several hours later. If he had been a jail inmate, there would have been no lawsuit, and nobody would have cared, other than his loved ones.

  25. Woosty, you have typed out a short message that has encapsulated my “life” for 35 years. It is what has caused me to become interested in the research that led me to the Deshaney case, the Dred Scott case, the “state agency child abuse cover-up debacle,” the “jurisdictional trussed up turkey citizenship” investigations, the “lexogenic crime” hypotheses and the “HEY WAIT A MINUTE WHAT ABOUT THE LIFE INTEREST” obsession.

    And I’m a dog person!

  26. “Spinelli was a contractor and therefore, not under direct supervision of the Sheriff. If she were under the supervision of the sheriff, she would be an employee.”

    Hmm. When I have worked as contract engineer, that has certainly not been the relationship.

    The contract engineer never sees his actual (as far as W-2 pay flows) boss, but works for an employee/supervisor of the contracting company who directly supervises him.

  27. I don’t believe the W-2 or 10-99 status of an individual acting on behalf of a gov’t agency creates an insulation from liability here. Acting as an agent of government can often include persons in no employment or contractual relationship to the agency. A person is acting as an agent of goverment when acting under the direction of a gov’t official even in an informal relationship.

    I would find it to be rather disturbing to see that a gov’t could effectively disclaim all responsibilities for bad behavior by writing up a Contractor agreement and then having the contractor endeavor to do whatever harm the government desires.

    At the very least it offers some rather unsavory temptations.

  28. anon, Apparently you are an employee of a contractor who provides another employee as your supervisor. You are called a contract engineer b/c that is your relationship with the entity that has the contract with your boss.

    Or are you saying that your supervisor is from the entity that has the contract with your boss? In this case you’re working as a highly skilled temp? If this is the case I think there are special conditions and I don’t know them.

    I have worked on-site as a contractor, getting my paycheck and per diem from my employer. I knew what was expected of me in terms of a work product. They provided me a work space and the hours that the space was available. No other direct supervision. When I finished, they had the work product and I was done.

    When I worked as an independent contractor for the state, I was given training and a manual that laid out how the work was to be done. The chief contractor determined who else was to be a contractor in order to get the job done and was responsible that it be done correctly, included staffing, scheduling, training, supervision. When the job moved to an agency, the chief contractor became an employee and had no say in scheduling, staffing or even that federal and state guidelines were to be used. Considering that the persons in charge at the agency were liars and incompetent, I quit or maybe I was fired. Doesn’t matter, I gave them a hard time b/c I couldn’t do the job properly or with the necessary integrity when it was grossly understaffed and violated the state/federal mandated guidelines for staffing and qualifications.

  29. “I don’t believe the W-2 or 10-99 status of an individual acting on behalf of a gov’t agency creates an insulation from liability here.”

    I wasn’t trying to say anything of the sort. If anything just the opposite.

    That it’s common in my experience for contract employees (Spinelli) to have direct supervision from the original contracting company’s (in this case the Sheriff’s Department) employees.

    ex: Honeywell does not like to hire permanent full time employees with benefits. So Honeywell contracts with Manpower, Inc (a real company) to find 10 engineers to help build 787 software. Those 10 engineers work W-2 for Manpower who provides them with a low salary and basically no benefits (medical care AFTER a year of employment, but contracts are for 6 months)…

    The 10 engineers meet with Manpower once, or never at all, using email and phone to deal with all paperwork.

    They go to work at Honeywell facilities, where Honeywell employees give them direct supervision.

    Later, your 787 crashes when the triply redundant entertainment system backs up into the nav system radar plumbing. A shortage of Aviation Draino is to blame causing blue screens on the Windows ME embedded systems.

    But no one would say Manpower was liable and Honeywell was not.

  30. bettykath,

    In looking at principle-agent relations in Agency law, a key focus in determining liability is often degree of direct control over the agent and the scope of agency relationship. Minimal control and acts outside the scope or a vaguely defined scope can mitigate or eliminate liability for a principle.

  31. “Sorry if I misinterpreted your intent. You do bring up good points on the 1099 / W-2 status. I’m sure you are aware of the Microsoft Permatemp lawsuit, Vizcaino v. Microsoft. It does establish some rather interesting guidlines.”

    Sadly, I’m well aware of it. Microsoft’s bad behavior took all the fun out of being an independent contractor across software development. (And Honeywell / Manpower turned that into a church.)

  32. Ironic timing for me. Just signed up a bit ago to protest at Rep Mike Fitzpatrick’s office when the nuns on the bus will be there protesting his tea party ideology: war on women votes (and votes against the poor) So the nuns on the bus, whose religion forbids birth control, I expect would have easily given her the MD prescribed pill but this, to me, christian terrorist refused. (seems more and more they want to bring Iraq and Iran, etc theocracy here (while of course bemoaning the horrors of islamic terrorism – if its your terror its bad, if its mine, its fine.)

  33. as i resident of florida i want to point out that most people who live in florida are not from florida. most of the people i know and have met here are from the northeast or the midwest (ohio etc). it is much more common to hear boston or new york accents than southern drawls.

    so don’t send all your dingbat relatives down here and then complain the state is full of dingbats. interstate 95 runs both ways.

  34. well, as a Northerner in Florida I find that on the surface things apper fairly ‘normal’….but underneath? not so much….and sorry to say I don’t think the ‘interactions’ here are all aboveboard and as sunlighty as they profess….are you a native Floridian Pete?

  35. no, grew up as an air force brat. i’m from everywhere. and things are not sunlighty and aboveboard here. i’m in volusia county, the county that at one point had about 1500 neg votes for al gore.

    the rule down here is if we build it, they will come.

  36. OS,
    Great story. It astounds me that people allow professional decisions by doctors to be abridged by non professionals. This better change soon or we will be controlled by someone else’s religious beliefs.

  37. please stop building! I can’t stand to see 1 more squished turtle or toppled tree…..for another empty highrise!

  38. raff, didn’t you get the memo? That is some of that Sharia law we hear is practiced in some of them furrin countries where all them Muslin furriners live. We don’t have none of that Sharia law here in the good ol’ U S of A.

    Oh wait……never mind.

  39. anon,

    ex: Honeywell does not like to hire permanent full time employees with benefits. So Honeywell contracts with Manpower, Inc (a real company) to find 10 engineers to help build 787 software. Those 10 engineers work W-2 for Manpower who provides them with a low salary and basically no benefits (medical care AFTER a year of employment, but contracts are for 6 months)…

    And this is a problem for pretty much all temps. Honeywell get workers without benefits, Manpower get workers without benefits, the workers get screwed, as do customers when the product goes beyond self destruction.

  40. W=^..^

    OT but comments about your new avatar on another thread prompted me to take a closer look and I must say that is your best one yet. Brava. I’d love to have a nice poster or lithograph of that. It’d look snappy in my office.

  41. I’ve never heard of an anti-contraception pill before. I would have thought that Spinelli would have been more than happy to give her a pill to ensure pregnancy.

  42. bugdrown, It’s more generally known as the morning-after pill. It prevents pregnancy. By refusing the pill Spinelli was giving her the opportunity for a pregnancy.

  43. bugdrown,
    The anti-contraception pill is sometimes called the “morning after pill.” Most of these methods require two pills in order to work. The first is taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex, then the second the next day. This two part pill keeps the embryo from implanting in the uterus. In effect, the woman is never actually pregnant, because the pregnancy was never consummated by implantation.

    Here is more information:


  44. Again, I like Wossty’s still a Cat’s comeback with a Devil Dog
    uTube. How come that person is so obsessesed with devils?
    They are kind of ugly.

  45. Upthread, where the video appears of the cop throwing a quadriplegic out of his wheelchair, I got yet another shock to my young life.

    Is the Commission on Disabled Americans (I forgot their real name, sorry) aware of this violation? Shouldn’t heads roll?

    Why is the victim having to use civil courts to get something done here; shouldn’t the (female) officer who assaulted him be charged with a felony?

  46. I bet if it was a Muslim jailer refusing to serve pork he would be suing and all of these commenters would be supporting his right to follow his religion but let this jailer follow her religious principles and she is vilified.

  47. Subnx, I think you should actually conduct an experiment to test that theory. Find a story where a Florida jail (or prison) guard refuses to serve pork to an inmate in spite of that inmate’s having a pork prescription from a licensed physician, and write a guest blog about the story, and see how “all of these commenters” respond. I mean, y’know, make it real, man.

  48. Subnx1, July 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    I bet if it was a Muslim jailer refusing to serve pork he would be suing and all of these commenters would be supporting his right to follow his religion but let this jailer follow her religious principles and she is vilified.

    refusing to serve pork will not have a potential result of 9 months of pregnancy, possible health issues resulting from the pregnancy, an 18 years, and beyond, commitment, and a possibly uunwanted child who will then also suffer from this one person deciding his religious beliefs trump the law and a medication given to the rape victim by a doctor; and that a rape victim can again be emotionally raped by this person refusing to give one aspect of the help she needed and for which she cried out. “Nope. My beliefs are much more important that the trauma you went through and I am now going to increase exponentially that trauma and pain.” That is the christian thing to do after all.

  49. Children are always an inconvenience. If you believe that after intercourse pills are murder then you can’t assist. The doctor is not relevant.

  50. Subnx,

    The doctor is not relevant? This was a medical decision based on a discussion between the patient and the doctor. The discussion, the diagnosis, the prescription are all legal. No one has the right to interfere.

    I’m not sure how anyone could see the prevention of a single diploid cell, called a zygote, from being attached to the uterine wall as being murder. A single cell. The greatest number of abortions by far, or murders if you insist, occur naturally. They are called miscarriages. Should I have been prosecuted for a miscarriage? That’s what these crazy laws that give the zygote has full rights and the woman has none are suggesting. Geesh. See the George Carlin video posted on “Black like us” thread.

  51. BettyKath, I think what Subnx is saying is that he or she would have done the same as this jail employee who declared herself to be the messenger of god. “Doctors are irrelevant” is the same as “laws are irrelevant” and all of that is equivalent to: “ALL THAT IS RELEVANT IS WHAT I THINK IS RIGHT.”

    THere’s a lot of THAT going around — and lots of it comes from the quarters that won’t eat pork, too.

  52. Subnx, then you find someone else to administer the doctor given medication. This was not an option, had it been say nitroglycerine or insulin, and the jailer was a 7th day adventist, should they have withheld the medication, and that is what it is medication, a pill, a medicine that a doctor gave t a patient and was withheld from her.
    The doctor is absolutley relevant. This was not a piece of bubble gum from a bubble gum machine. It was a medicine, does not matter for what or why.
    This jailer, if G-d forbid there had been a pregnancy, should have been forced to psy for all expenses related to the product of the rape up to the age of 18.
    (Children may sometimes be an inconvenience but when it reminds you every second of every day of a man who invaded your body without your permission, who committed violence on you, it is a heck of a lot mre then an inconvenience.
    I would be surprised if this happened to someone in the jailer’s own family if they did not consider using the morning after pill.
    In theory this s a nice concept: I dont believe in contraception, even when there is no pregnancy and this is to prevent that from happening. In reality it is a whole lot different.

  53. You’re missing the point entirely. Your medical conclusion may be correct or not. You believe it isn’t murder and the jailer did. Until GE and Siemens get more proficient we won’t know for sure. But if you’re the jailer and you think it’s murder then you can’t do it. If you were the jailer and ordered to execute the prisoner and you think that to carry out the death penalty is murder then you can refuse. You can be fired but you shouldn’t be vilified for refusing to execute the prisoner. You may think the jailer was silly to believe as she does but lots of people thought that about early term abortions until GE and Siemens showed otherwise. The miscarriage analogy doesn’t work. Auto accidents and miscarriages happen and notwithstanding tort lawyers they are accidents. Doing something on purpose is a different thing. Doctors can’t authorize murder. Personally, I agree with you regarding your medical conclusion but that isn’t the issue.

  54. Belief isn’t the law.

    The physical aspects of a miscarriage and the morning after pill are pretty much the same except in a miscarriage the zygote may be more than a single cell and it may, in fact, have actually developed into an embryo. Are you suggesting that God commits murder through miscarriage?

    There are just too many people who are ignorant of basic biology. Maybe they are too stupid to learn. In any case, they are perfect targets for fundamentalist religions and zealots.

  55. There you go again with the biology argument. You may be right but that’s not the point. God does whatever God does and none of really know if or why and it’s not for us to put labels on that. The point is that if someone believes that it is murder to give someone a morning after pill then both of you may be right or wrong because you both assume the conclusion. You assume that your biological interpretation dictates humanity because that’s your frame of reference. She thinks otherwise. Once the conclusion is assumed the action, or in this case the inaction, is dictated.

  56. It is very simple. The jailer did not want to do her job. At the least she should have immediately gotte someone else to do her work for her. Simple issue when you get down to it, she had a job to do as part of her employment and refused. She is eing vilified, because she added more injury to what a rape victim had already experienced. Shame on her. And if she bothered to ask WWJD I doubt he owuld say make it even harder for this woman who has been through so much already.
    Bettykath is right on he mark. This was not “murder” or even the attempt at murder, since there was no living creature. This was to stop the possibility of a pregnancy. Had she been asked to give the woman some kinid of pill that would kill a 3 month old fetus, or even a 1 day old fetus, if it were possible to kow that existed, it would be different.
    This was a medical issue pure and simple. This jailer was not pro life, her actions were anti life of the woman in front of her.

  57. You are assuming that there was no living creature. Once you make that assumption all of your conclusions logically follow. If you make the contrary assumption then other conclusions logically follow. I tend to lean toward your assumption but that doesn’t matter.

  58. “Emergency contraception is used to prevent pregnancy before it begins, and works primarily or perhaps exclusively by delaying or inhibiting ovulation; it does not cause an abortion.”

  59. There you go citing biology again rather than conscience. Not being particularly interested in cellular biology I can’t comment on the accuracy of your statement but it doesn’t change the belief of the jailer at the time of the incident and her unwillingness to participate in what she believed to be an immoral act. General Goering orders you to turn on the gas and lawfully under then existing German law execute a few Jews. You gonna do it?

  60. Subnx, you’ve gone from “medicine equals pork” to “doing your job in giving a victimized woman a pill the doctor says she needs equals murdering a few Jews in a gas chamber.” But that is probably the kind of thinking that gave the jail guard the idea that she could deny medicine to the inmate who had a prescription for it. Once you decide that YOUR CONDUCT is the RIGHT CONDUCT, it no longer matters that others, including your employers (where you are voluntarily employed) have valid reasons to expect you to do something you have signed on to do.

    The Germans under the control of Goering could not just say, “Hey I don’t like this job because it disturbs my conscience; I think I’ll get a different job maybe scrubbing floors for some Jews in town,” and leave the employ of their Fuhrer. SOME GERMANS DID “QUIT” and most of them were killed, quite horribly. Very few of them tried this method. But this jail guard had every right to go to her superior officer, say, “I refuse to take part in this act of unconscionable murder by delivering this immoral pill to that inmate; therefore either you do this part of my job for me so I don’t have to do it, or I will quit on the spot and go find a job doing something moral, like saving Jews or something.”

    She had a right to do that. Nobody would torture her to death for doing that. She was free to do that. She was an American and had a right to leave her employer for reasons best known to herself. Under the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, HER employer could not have forced her to commit an immoral act or to stay in the employ of the immoral agency that wanted her to commit that immoral act.

    Did she choose to exercise her constitutional right to quit? NO.

    She chose, instead, to violate the inmate’s constitutional right to adequate medical care while incarcerated.

  61. Malisha says it but I will also say it. Analogizing Exterminating jews in a system where your choice was kill them or we will kill you vs. saying ‘can’t conscience”, and getting someone else in a timely fashion to do the job you have refused to do is I guess not really understanding the concept of analogy

  62. So it’s not a perfect analogy. The executioner one was better but she blew right past that one. Actually,possess possible for a Nazi to request a transfer to the Russian front. I bet those were freely granted. Getting someone else to do the job would be aiding and abetting the immoral act. The jailer prevented it from happening. More like sabotaging the execution mechanism (or the gas chamber in the other analogy). Setting aside for the moment the culpability or non culpability of the jailer the suit is a frivolous suit by someone with no legal damages which is just costing taxpayers money and will probably get settled for paying the lawyer fees and some nuisance money to the plaintiff. You notice that the plaintiff sued the sheriff instead of the jailer. It’s all about extortion of the taxpayers.

  63. You notice that the plaintiff sued the sheriff instead of the jailer. It’s all about extortion of the taxpayers.

    I thought I was in a negative down spiral….I must be on my way back up…. 😉

  64. Subnx, wrong, about the “suing the sheriff instead of the jailer” and wrong about the suit being frivolous because there were “no damages.” There is a concept of law that says you sue the SUPERIOR for the acts of the employee. Why? Because the employee was doing the job under the supervision of and attributable to the superior. You do not sue the individual person who did the wrong because they did not do it for themselves; they did it for the agency they work for. RESPONDEAT SUPERIOR — the superior (employer, boss, commanding officer, etc.) answers. And as to it being frivolous because there were no damages — there is a principle of law called, “capable of repetition, yet evading review.” It means that since each person’s need for medication may only last a few days, after which they will perhaps get better (or not need it) or get deathly ill or die or something, the courts deal with the issue (although specific damages did not seem to flow from it) because it is, as the principle suggests, capable of REPETITION but unlikely to get to court until something horrible happens. Therefore, the plaintiff in this suit did everything right, and it is not frivolous (which is what the judge ruled, by the way): She sued the SUPERIOR responsible; she sued because the tort was “capable of repetition yet evading review.” She should win. It will save the taxpayers a lot of money if it prevents some other fool from withholding medication from an inmate who ends up with a multi-gazillion-dollar claim that can’t be resolved without a giant mess!

  65. You can sue both but, as was mentioned in the article, the damages will only be nominal and I suspect that the county has already made sure that anyone in that position in the future doesn’t have the reservations of that jailer although that will probably result in some sort of religious discrimination suit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or on some other theory). Continuation of the suit is just a drain on the taxpayers and is emblematic of the many things that are out of control in our tort system.

  66. Subnx, I disagree about continuation of the suit being “just a drain” because if THIS county deals with this little problem, that is allegedly fine, but if the suit is continued and comes up with something important, that can become precedent and it will be dealt with.

    Besides which, this woman really DID have damages in that she was put at risk and treated badly after being (a) raped and (b) arrested. To think that was “de minimus” smacks of a kind of attitude that we don’t want to admit is our American way of life. Maybe if this were Iran, or China, or —

    The fact that she was able to get this far with her lawsuit is also something that should be taken into consideration. Most people with claims against jails or state agencies get thrown out before their cases are even horizontal before they reach the circular file. Which, of course, explains why jails and state agencies (etc.) behave in such a cavalier manner and victimize folks so often.

    We live in a society where there is no accountability, only liability. If you can’t make out a case for liability, you’ve got nothing.

  67. A child psychiatrist (now deceased) named Richard Gardner once put forward the theory that simply ACCUSING a man of having molested a child was enough to make the behavior stop, if it even happened in the first place. He said, therefore, that there should not be any need to continue to carry on about a guy having molested a child: if he was accused, the behavior is OVER automatically, and therefore, what’s the big deal? SEE? So under that theory, in 2001 when some Penn State folks mentioned to Jerry Sandusky that his conduct was noticed, that should have been enough and there was no need to go and prosecute him after all those years. Would that play? His defense counsel doesn’t seem to have even considered using that argument — right? The issue is that thing generally do not STOP even if you think they “should” or “might” simply because someone has brought something bad to someone’s attention. If you don’t push the thing all the way through to the bloody conclusion, under our system, you may as well roll over and accept whatever may be done to you. Or to others. Or to everyone.

  68. The key is just what you said. She filed a liability action instead of an injunction action. Her and her lawyer want money. The issue of why the U.S. incarcerates more people per capita for insanely lengthy sentences than just about anyone else in the world is the subject of another discussion.

  69. She could NOT file an injunction against an act that had already taken place! And she had no STANDING to file an injunction action against anyone for doing something to someone else at some other time! And no lawyer would take a case where there was no money to be made!

    OUR SYSTEM required that in order to deal with the problem, the only legal way for her to do ANYTHING about it was to do what she DID DO about it and more power to her!

    Try just doing good in this world by pointing out that bad has been done!

  70. Subnx wrote:”Setting aside for the moment the culpability or non culpability of the jailer ”
    ok so we have set aside the biological issue, you told us to do that a while back, and now the culpability issue. Gee everytime someone comes up with a response oppositional to your position, one which you will hild onto no matter how overwhelmingly wrong it is, you say well throwout that part of the argument. Okay then there is nothing left: there was no need for the jailer to give her anything for something that was not an issue.
    Point. Game. Over.

  71. Mandatory injunctions are entered all the time to enjoin prospective actions. She has as much standing as anyone to bring that type of suit. It’s about money and ripping off the taxpayer. If she just wanted to “do good” she would have either filed an injunction action or sued the jailer and left the taxpayers alone. I don’t think that the actions of the jailer were somethng that was dictated by the county. She acted on her own and yes the count may be liable for real damages but if there were any they were nominal, as the article points out. Besides, the jailer thought she was “doing good”.

  72. Malisha
    1, July 5, 2012 at 11:57 am
    A child psychiatrist (now deceased) named Richard Gardner once put forward the theory that simply ACCUSING a man of having molested a child was enough to make the behavior stop, if it even happened in the first place.
    No theory of human behavior, even if correct, is correct 100% of the time.
    In a situation outlined such as this, it MAY be enough to accuse someone of actual molestation, during the actual time frame of the crime, and have that be enough impetus to stop the molestation….but that is not a given and when someone has demonstrated an inability to maintain behavior against another human being, it is also risky, likely even dangerous to do so. I would forward the theory that accusing someone of molesting children , and it not being true fact, could potentially cause even more damage to every person involved. Accusations are venal ugly things when not rooted in fact but that does not stop venal ugly people from doing it.

  73. ” If she just wanted to “do good” she would have either filed an injunction action or sued the jailer and left the taxpayers alone. I don’t think that the actions of the jailer were somethng that was dictated by the county. “~Subnx
    I think this case is very important right now. There is a push to privatize and profitize the prison system, to Industrialize it. Already in healthcare we saw employees quite often reluctant to admit to mistakes because the legal community had become so aggressive as opposed to assertive in prosecuting and with profits rather than quality (outcomes) as king the likelihood of any response other than a career wrecked became challenged. That environment made healthcare something more akin to hellcare and the kind of positive institutional progress that can occur when the environment is not in a state of fear was squelched. Prisons are not there to heal and help, can you imagine how ugly they could become without clear oversight and set boundaries and staff empowered to know what the limits of their actions can be?

  74. I would forward the theory that accusing someone of molesting children , and it not being true fact, could potentially cause even more damage to every person involved.
    and, like with the McMartin case, have an even larger audience of those hurt by it. McMartin helped to go backward: children having a harder time being believed as in the older days.

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