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Federal appeals court backs required transport for Missouri inmate abortions

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on Tuesday unanimously upheld [ruling, PDF] a 2006 federal court ruling [PDF text; JURIST report] that the state of Missouri must provide inmates with transportation to a medical facility for a non-therapeutic abortion. The Eighth Circuit rejected the trial court's conclusion that a non-therapeutic abortion constitutes a "serious medical need," and therefore may not be intentionally denied by the state under the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Circuit instead affirmed the judgment under an analysis of the Fourteenth Amendment established by the US Supreme Court's 1987 case Turner v. Safley [text], which states that "prison regulations restricting constitutional guarantees are valid only if the regulations are 'reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.'" The Missouri Department of Corrections [official website] will comport with the decision as it considers an appeal.

The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the decision [press release] as "consistent with rulings from across the country that women prisoners do not lose their reproductive rights once they are incarcerated." The Kansas City Star has more.

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