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Women Sue Alameda County Sheriff’s Office for Forced Pregnancy Tests During Arrests

A lawsuit has been filed against the Alameda County Sheriff that claims the department violated the rights of a woman and broke the law when ordering 72-year-old Susan Harman to take a pregnancy test, according to KTVU.

The incident occurred on July 8, 2010 when Harman was arrested at a protest regarding the outcome of the Oscar Grant trial.

“The next thing I knew, I was hit over the head with a billy club,” explained Harman.

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Harman was 69 at the time and was forced to take a pregnancy test while at the Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility in Oakland.

“I don’t think I’ve ever taken a pregnancy test!” she said. “To know whether or not you’re pregnant is very intimate and personal, and something that a woman would want to discuss with her loved ones and her doctor. Not with some matron in a jail!” Harman said.

An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, Elizabeth Gill, said that the ACLU asked the sheriff’s office to end its practice of forcing women 60 years and younger to take pregnancy tests.

“As far as we know, Alameda County is the only county in the state that is doing this, and it’s highly offensive,” said Gill. “This is not part of any health screening.”

There were two other women named in the lawsuit. One of them, Nancy Mancias, was arrested in the middle of a political demonstration in August of 2012.

Mancias said she had to take a pregnancy test, but also told the officers she was diabetic and that she needed insulin. In the lawsuit, Mancias claims she never received the medication.

Mancias would not agree to take the test until she was threatened with a transfer to Santa Rita jail. The lawsuit states that Mancias was not provided with the results of the test or charged with any crime.

The third plaintiff in the lawsuit filed under Jane Doe. She was arrested in April of 2014 for reportedly obstructing, resisting or delaying a peace officer during a traffic stop. Jane Doe was also forced to take a pregnancy test and was in jail for 16 hours prior to release.

A spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said the following in a statement:

“We have not been served with any lawsuit yet, but when we are, I will have a response.”

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