by Steven Ertelt
July 20, 2006
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the state of Missouri must allow pregnant prisoners to get abortions. The judge said the state not only has to allow inmates to get abortions but must provide state taxpayer-funded transportation for them to get to the abortion center from prison and back.
In October, the Supreme Court unanimously said Missouri had to allow one unnamed inmate to get an abortion.
In response to that decision the pro-abortion American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of all pregnant inmates who may seek an abortion.
U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple of Kansas City issued the initial ruling in that case this week. He also ruled the woman in last year’s case should be able to get the abortion.
A representative of Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon would not say whether he intended to appeal the decision, but Gov. Matt Blunt, who opposes abortion, wants him to do so.
"This ruling violates our traditional Missouri values and is an affront to everyone that values the sanctity of human life," Blunt said in a written statement, according to AP. "I urge the attorney general to fight this ruling that prevents the state of Missouri from protecting innocent human life."
The Supreme Court ruling came after a decision in July 2005 to stop providing transportation for pregnant women to get abortions. The state cited costs as well as security concerns.
In the case that eventually reached the Supreme Court, Missouri Department of Corrections officials contended that taking the woman to a local St. Louis abortion facility would violate state law prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds from paying for abortions.
ACLU lawyer Tom Blumenthal said that about 35-50 women are pregnant in the Missouri prison system at any given time.
He told AP that two other women had abortions after the ruling last year and another woman was denied an abortion.
Taking prisoners to abortion facilities has been in issue in other states as well.
Last October, an Arizona county sheriff requested a ruling from a state appeals court on whether he can refuse to take inmates for elective abortions because he doesn’t want to involve taxpayer funds in the transportation process.
In September, a woman in a Tennessee jail pending a trial on a charge of possessing and selling drugs was been granted a request to leave prison to have an abortion. Federal District Court Magistrate Bruce Guyton approved the request.
The latest Missouri case is Roe v. Crawford, et al., No. 05-4333-CV-C-DW.