My body (except in prison)

Missouri attorney general appeals decision allowing inmates transportion to receive abortions.

Published August 18, 2006 5:15PM (EDT)

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said on Wednesday that "he will appeal a federal court ruling requiring the state to take pregnant inmates to abortion clinics when they request the procedure," the Associated Press reports.

In 1992, a Missouri Department of Corrections policy on the healthcare of pregnant inmates "specifically stated that the government would pay to transport an inmate for an abortion, although it would not pay for the abortion itself," the AP reports. But the department reversed the policy in July 2005, citing costs and security concerns, and agreed to transport only inmates whose lives or health was endangered.

In response to this change in the policy, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action suit against the state demanding that transportation for abortion be made available to all women inmates. U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple of Kansas City sided with the ACLU last month, concluding that the policy "violated constitutional safeguards for due process and against cruel and unusual punishment." Indeed, if Nixon were to win his appeal, incarcerated women in Missouri would cede control over their bodies upon entering prison.

By Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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