Appeals Court Hears Case About Abortion Rights for Inmates

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit heard arguments today in a class-action lawsuit concerning the right to obtain abortion care for incarcerated women in Missouri .

In the past, the Missouri Department of Corrections would pay to transport inmates to a facility to obtain an abortion if an inmate requested the option, but not pay for the actual procedure. However, in 2005 this policy was reversed and an inmate could only be transported to obtain abortion care if her health or life were endangered. Last year a U.S. District Court Judge ruled this policy against transporting inmates for abortions was unconstitutional.

“Courts throughout the country have consistently held that being in prison does not mean a woman gives up her reproductive rights,” said Diana Kasdan, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, who argued the ACLU’s position before the court today. “Like other serious medical needs, prison officials must ensure that a woman can access abortion care.”

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