by Steven Ertelt
October 21, 2005
St. Louis, MO (LifeNews.com) — A Missouri inmate authorized by the Supreme Court to get an abortion after state officials refused to take her to a local abortion facility had her abortion on Thursday.
The abortion at the St. Louis facility came three days after the nation’s high court decided unanimously that prison officials could not prevent her from having an abortion despite a state law prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for abortions.
John Fougere, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections, confirmed to the Associated Press that the inmate had the abortion.
She left the prison in Vandalia at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday and had the abortion at a St. Louis Planned Parenthood center. She returned to the prison, located 80 miles north of St. Louis, by 3:15 p.m.
Earlier this year, Missouri prison officials scrapped a policy allowing inmates to be transported for abortions. The state authorities said the prison should comply with state law and not use taxpayer money for the abortion through the transportation and security costs.
The woman in question could pay for the abortion but could not reimburse the state for the costs of taking her for it and making sure she was in custody during the trip. Because of that, she filed a lawsuit against the state, with the help of the ACLU, to obtain the abortion.
Governor Matt Blunt, who opposes abortion, was disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling.
"The governor remains disappointed in the court actions that compelled the state’s involvement," Blunt spokesman Spence Jackson told AP. He said the prison’s refusal to facilitate the abortion reflects the state’s pro-life values and he said the state will continue to defend the rule.
The prison had served time for possession of methamphetamine and had been released on parole but was taken into custody again when she fled the state and violated her parole regulations.
According to court papers, the inmate was 16-17 weeks into the pregnancy and had been trying for eight weeks to get the abortion.
The unanimous Supreme Court decision has little bearing on the state of abortion nationally, but could affect future attempts by prison officials who don’t want to use state funds to help women obtain abortions.