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Federal judge requires Missouri to transport inmates seeking abortions

[JURIST] The state of Missouri [JURIST news archive] must give all prison inmates access to abortion [JURIST news archive] a federal judge in Kansas City ruled [PDF text] Tuesday. US District Judge Dean Whipple [official profile] ruled last year in Roe v. Crawford that Missouri had to provide a particular inmate with transportation to an abortion facility and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] subsequently asked that the lawsuit be amended and that the lawsuit be certified as a class action. Whipple on Tuesday granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, ruling that "Having shown that Defendants intentionally deny Plaintiffs' the right to have an elective abortion, in conjunction with the Third Circuit's designation of a nontherapeutic abortion as a "serious medical need," Plaintiffs have established the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, and are accordingly entitled to judgment in their favor as a matter of law." In a statement [text], Gov. Matt Blunt called the ruling "an affront to everyone that values the sanctity of human life" and urged the state attorney general to appeal. Diana Kasdan, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, praised the decision [ACLU press release], saying: "Prison officials can no longer ignore the medical needs of women prisoners seeking abortions. We applaud the court for recognizing that women do not give up their right to abortion care when they enter prison."

The state asked the US Supreme Court last year to block Whipple's original decision in the case. The court initially stayed the decision's enforcement but then lifted the temporary stay [JURIST reports] in October, allowing Whipple's order to stand. The inmate who filed the lawsuit had an abortion three days later, and at least two other inmates have terminated their pregnancies since then. AP has more.

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