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Pregnant Forger Denied Probation

October 8, 1998

CLEVELAND (AP) _ A jailed forger who appealed for probation so she could get an abortion was sent to prison by a judge who doesn’t want the procedure done.

``I’m saying that she is not having a second-term abortion,″ Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cleary said at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing for Yuriko Kawaguchi, who is more than five months’ pregnant.

Ms. Kawaguchi, who pleaded guilty Aug. 10 to forgery in a credit-card scam, was sentenced to six months in prison, with credit for four months already spent in jail.

The judge would have considered releasing Ms. Kawaguchi, 21, on probation had she agreed to have the baby, The Plain Dealer reported. The newspaper cited a court transcript.

Cleary today said she is against abortion.

But she also said Ms. Kawaguchi’s sentence was not based on her pregnancy, but on her participation in a sophisticated scheme in which she and two men were buying computers with fake credit cards and then selling the merchandise.

``It’s not like she wrote a bad check to pay the rent,″ Cleary said. ``But I’m not going to be a hypocrite. I think it worked out swell if that was her desire to abort her child that late.″

Ms. Kawaguchi, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, referred to her ``unwanted pregnancy″ when she pleaded guilty, telling the judge: ``I will be trying to have a procedure.″

``She pretty much played God with my life,″ Ms. Kawaguchi said from jail.

Joan Englund, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, said she and co-counsel Donald Green are exploring ways of getting Ms. Kawaguchi out of jail.

Englund called the judge’s actions reprehensible and ``an egregious abuse of power.″

Ohio prisoners can get abortions, but the clinic that provides them generally does not perform them after the fourth month of pregnancy, said state prisons spokesman Joseph Andrews.

Ms. Kawaguchi was to be moved to the state women’s prison at Marysville in several days.

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