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Missouri to appeal federal inmate abortion ruling

[JURIST] Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon [official profile] on Wednesday filed a notice of appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit [official website], and told reporters that he intends to appeal a federal court ruling [PDF text; JURIST report] granting summary judgment to a class action lawsuit against Missouri that requires the state to provide inmates with transportation to a medical facility for a nontherapeutic abortion. In the trial court ruling, US District Judge Dean Whipple found that because a nontherapeutic abortion has been found by the Third Circuit to constitute a "serious medical need," the state may not intentionally deny to inmates the right to have elective abortions. In 2005, Whipple came to a similar conclusion in the initial case of Roe v. Crawford, which preceded July's class-action decision.

On appeal, Missouri plans to argue that the issue is controlled by a 1986 state law that prohibits the use of public funds, facilities and employees to provide an abortion where the woman's life is not in immediate danger. Whipple rejected the argument in the July ruling, writing that Eighth Circuit precedent
holds that the "Missouri law prohibiting the use of Missouri State funds to assist with an abortion does not encompass transport to the location where the procedure is to take place." AP has more.

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