Federal Court Rules in Favor of Missouri Inmates in Abortion Case

The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in St Louis ruled on Tuesday that Missouri inmates have the right to an elective abortion. The court unanimously upheld the lower court’s ruling, mandating that the state must allow pregnant inmates to have abortions and must provide transportation to facilities for the procedure, reports the Associated Press.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the state had to allow a specific inmate to have an abortion, and the American Civil Liberties Union then sought a federal ruling making the court’s decision a class-action on behalf of all pregnant inmates in Missouri.

Tuesday’s decision, which came on the 35th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the US, overturned the policy of Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt’s administration and the Missouri Department of Corrections that restricted inmates’ access to abortion. The policy, which was enacted in September 2005, prohibited corrections workers from taking female inmates from a prison in Vandalia to St. Louis for elective abortion procedures, according to the Kansas City Star.

Thomas M. Blumenthal, the St. Louis lawyer who represented the original anonymous “Jane Roe” inmate before the case became a class-action suit, applauded the decision. “This (abortion) is not a right that is lost at the jailhouse door,” he told the Kansas City Star.


Kansas City Star 1/22/07; St. Louis Post-Dispatch 1/23/08; Associated Press 1/23/08

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