Missouri Federal Judge Says State Must Take Inmate for Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 14, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Missouri Federal Judge Says State Must Take Inmate for Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 14, 2005

St. Louis, MO (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge on Friday ordered Missouri officials to take an inmate to St. Louis for an abortion despite a state law prohibiting the use of any state funds for abortions. The state attorney general has appealed the ruling and, at press time, the woman has not yet had the abortion.

Chief District Judge Dean Whipple wrote an order that was released at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon saying his court "would not tolerate further defiance" of his order to take the woman, known as "Jane Roe" for the abortion.

Judge Whipple initially issued an order Thursday afternoon for the abortion to happen and his Friday order said the abortion must occur by Saturday morning.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper reported the woman still in prison Friday afternoon.

Attorneys for the for the Missouri Attorney General’s office appealed Whipple’s original order to the 8th U.S. Court in St. Louis and asked the higher court to delay the abortion while the case continues. Unless the appeals court grants a delay, state officials must follow Whipple’s order.

The appeals court later said it would not issue a delay.

Citing the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Whipple wrote that delaying the abortion would cause Roe “medical, financial, and psychological risks" despite the inherent medical and emotional risks of an abortion.

Whipple also cited a previous appeals court decision saying state officials must take inmates for abortions and that state law doesn’t prevent or prohibit that.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Pritchett argues the prison policy prohibiting elective abortions is not an "undue burden" on women.

“It is not the prison that has imposed the burden, but the prisoner’s violation of the law that resulted in her incarceration that has imposed the burden,” Pritchett wrote, according to the Dispatch.

“And, even if the result were plaintiff carrying her child to term, it ought not be held that this result – having a child – is a harm at all, much less an irreparable one,” the filing says.