State Corrections officials will not be driving an inmate from the Vandalia women’s prison to St. Louis for an abortion today. US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has granted the state’s request for a stay in the proceedings until he or the full court make a further decision. The Corrections Department had refused to transport the inmate, identified only as Jane Roe, from the Vandalia prison to the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. The department has changed its policy, arguing that transporting a prison inmate to an abortion clinic violates state law that prohibits taxpayer money from paying for an abortion. It also claims transporting a prisoner poses a security risk. Federal Judge Dean Whipple had ordered the state to take the inmate to St. Louis for the abortion, ruling that the state cannot infringe on the constitutional right of a woman to have an abortion, even if the woman is in state custody. Attorney General Jay Nixon was rebuffed in his attempt to get Whipple to change his mind and to get a three-judge panel of the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis to overrule him. Whipple had ordered that the prisoner be taken this morning to the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. But Thomas stepped in and blocked Whipple’s order from taking effect. The prisoner has stated in court filings that she will pay for the abortion and that she only needs the state to provide transportation from the Vandalia prison.
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