Hey Yamhill County, you deserve better

Carla Axtman

Even in very pro-choice Oregon, women still have to fight for reproductive freedom.

Misty Clifton, Shakespeare's Sister:

..... This little slice of "authentic Oregon" currently has a women in jail awaiting trial. The woman, Bridget Burkholder, needs an abortion. The county is refusing to provide transportation--which it does do for medical care. The county has, essentially, said that if she can come up with the $6500 bail, she's more than free to go get an abortion.

Bridget Burkholder, a 23-year-old Portland resident, is awaiting trial on arson, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct charges after she allegedly damaged a McMinnville motel room in what authorities feared was preparation to set herself on fire.


At a Thursday hearing, Hanson [Abraham, defense attorney] told Circuit Judge John Collins that his client was running out of time. He asked Collins to grant her a conditional release so she could make an appointment scheduled for the following morning.

However, such a release would be unsupervised. After hearing from both Burkholder and the jail's licensed social worker, Patricia Brown, Collins denied the release.

Collins said Sheriff Jack Crabtree had the legal authority to have her escorted to Salem and back for her clinic visit. He said he had no authority to order a medical furlough himself, but said, "I believe the sheriff does, whether the inmate is under pre-trial or sentenced status."

Sheriff Crabtree is outright refusing to do so without a court order. At Ms. Burkholder's hearing, Ms. Brown (the social worker) said that Ms. Burkholder was doing well with psychiatric treatment, though she may still pose a risk to herself and other people. Also at the hearing the prosecutor, Michael Videtich, had this to say:

"Also, this isn't a scenario where there is a medical emergency. I understand that there is a timeline, but it's not an emergency. This is an elective procedure she has a right to have. But she can post bail."

But, no, she cannot just post bail: she does not have the money to do so. Also Mr. Videtich? Abortion is not an "elective procedure" akin to, say, eyelash tinting. All medical procedures are technically "elective", that makes them no less necessary. This is, in fact, an emergency. Simply because she is not about to die right now makes it no less urgent. I see your false equivalence and call your bullshit.

So what is this? A game of Beat The Clock to force this woman, whose life is apparently in shambles & mental health situation unstable, to have an unwanted child? Do Sheriff Crabtree and Prosecutor Videtich plan to care for this child once it's born? What are the odds that these two men are prepared to deal with the mess they're very likely creating? (I'm gonna say slim to none).

C'mon Yamhill County. You can do better than this.

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    Ms. Axtman, I'd like to bring up a few points. First, it says in the article that the woman was likely trying to harm herself, and that the release for the procedure would be unsupervised. What happens if she does harm to herself or someone else (including her unborn child) during that time? Second, you question whether Crabtree and Videtich plan to care for the child once its born. That is absurd. Where is sense of personal accountability in this world? Should this woman be responsible for ANY of her actions? Apparently not, according to you. The decision to keep her locked up is correct. I can ususally respect most of the posts on this blog, even though I disagree, but this is a bit of a stretch.

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    Okay fair enough, I did not notice the sheriff would be able to escort her. However, she should still be subject to the same rules as everyone else. To my knowledge, the pregnancy doesn't threaten her life. If she is able to post bail, then she has the right to an abortion.

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      So only rich people should be able to have abortions? No, Chris. The point of bail is to allow a defendant to remain out of jail until trial, not to act as a barrier to receiving medical care.

      This blog really needs an "unlike" button under the comments.

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    Whatever we, as a county, deserve, this woman deserves better. Many Yamhill County officials and residents (and others) look the other way when confronted with political corruption and possible law-breaking, but we'd better make sure that in the case of a young woman with mental health issues the letter of the law is observed. Disgusting, shameful and totally lacking in compassion.

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    My read of the article suggests that Judge Collins has given her a path to medical treatment by offering to place a magistrate's hold so that she can be transferred to a mental health facility where she can more easily arrange a supervised visit to a clinic in Salem.

    Moral and ethical questions aside, I am shocked that the Sheriff would expose the county to this kind of legal risk.

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    This is total bull****. I noticed on the comments on the linked article that some folks are lining up to donate to a bail fund for her if one is created.

    Carla, can I assume you'll stay in the loop on this story and let us know if such a fund transpires or if there are any protests scheduled or anything? I'm going to try and track as well but I'd like to do whatever I can to help.

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    FYI... I have heard that this issue has been resolved thanks to intervention from folks involved in the local NAMI chapter.

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