Supreme Court Upholds Inmates’ Right to Chose
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal today from a Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff to review a lower court’s ruling that protected Arizona inmates’ right to an abortion. The sheriff’s policy of prohibiting jail officials from transporting a prisoner for an abortion without a court order was challenged by an inmate in 2004. The Arizona Superior Court struck down the policy in 2005, and the decision was upheld in the by the Arizona Court of Appeals in 2007. According to the Associated Press, the justices did not comment on their decision to let the lower court ruling stand.
“As we have shown throughout this case, a pregnant woman in prison does not lose her right to decide to have an abortion any more than she gives up her right to have a child," said Brigitte Amiri, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project in a press release. "It is not up to prison officials to decide whether a woman prisoner should carry a pregnancy to term or not."
The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in St Louis decided a similar case in Missouri earlier this year, ruling unanimously to uphold a lower court’s ruling mandating that the state must allow pregnant inmates to have abortions and must provide transportation to facilities for the procedure.
Media Resources: ACLU Press Release 3/24/08; Associated Press 3/24/08; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/24/08