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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Thomas Issues Stay Of Lower Court Abortion Ruling

This is interesting. A pregnant prisoner in Missouri was asked to pay transport costs in order to obtain a medically unnecessary abortion. The ACLU sued on her behalf and the federal district court judge, Dean Whipple, issued an order to the authorities to take her to get an abortion today. The case was appealed and Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on Friday night.

Jurist News. AP/My Way News:
Missouri state law forbids spending tax dollars to facilitate an abortion. However, U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple ruled Thursday that the prison system was blocking the woman from exercising her right to an abortion and ordered that the woman be taken to the clinic Saturday.
The woman, whose name was not disclosed in court papers, has said she will borrow money for the abortion from friends and family but cannot afford to pay for transportation.
The state estimated it would cost $350 plus fuel for two guards to accompany the woman on the 80-mile trip from her cell in Vandalia to a St. Louis clinic.
I haven't been able to find the text of Whipple's decision. The attorney for the plaintiff was James Felakos of the ACLU, Eastern Missouri chapter. The cost cited doesn't sound excessive - in a lot of places a round trip taxi ride would cost that much. The $350 is probably the cost of the two guard's salaries for a day.

This sounds like the judge said they had to do it for free. The prison authorities aren't blocking her from having an abortion. Would a judge rule that the prison system had to transport a prisoner for elective eye surgery for free?

I won't opine on anything- my view on abortion is no secret. That said, I do wonder what it will cost the state to care for the child until the mother is released- or longer.
It will cost more if the child is born.

But that is not really the issue, is it? After all, the same could be said for every mother receiving state funds in Missouri, who are the only ones who would be getting state funding for abortions anyway.

It sounds like the voters of Missouri have decided that they don't want to pay for medically unnecessary abortions, and that is not a monetary decision but a moral decision. They are willing to pay for the care of the children.

Logically, if a federal judge rules that the prison system has to pay to transport the prisoner on the grounds that it will eventually cost the prison less, so the state is not really using public funds for an abortion, then the law forbidding public funding of abortions in Missouri is invalid. It always costs less to abort than to give birth.

And maybe that is exactly the ACLU's goal.
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