Abortion Procedures Ban Found Unconstitutional for the Third Time
US District Court Judge Richard Kopf of Lincoln, Nebraska ruled today that the Partial-Birth Abortion Act is unconstitutional, recognizing the law as a threat to women's health. The ban, signed into law by Bush in 2003, was challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Dr LeRoy Carhart and three other doctors. A similar ban in the state of Nebraska was also overturned by Judge Kopf in 2000. That case, Stenberg v. Carhart, was also brought to trial by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Dr Carhart.
Judge Kopf wrote a detailed and lengthy opinion totalling 500 pages, more than three times the length of other opinions issued in federal abortion ban trials, criticizing the medical conclusions drawn by Congress, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Judge Kopf concluded in his ruling that "the overwhelming weight of the trial evidence proves that the banned procedure is safe and medically necessary in order to preserve the health of women under certain circumstances. In the absence of an exception for the health of a woman, banning the procedure constitutes a significant health hazard to women."
This is the third time the abortion procedures ban has been found unconstitutional. Two weeks ago, a federal judge in New York ruled that the procedure, properly known as intact dilation and extraction, could not be outlawed unless there was a consensus in the medical field that there would never be a circumstance in which the procedure could benefit a woman. A San Francisco US District Court judge came to the same conclusion on June 1, citing "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose. The Associated Press reports that all three rulings are expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
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Media Resources: Center for Reproductive Rights 9/8/04; Associated Press 9/8/04; Feminist News 6/1/04, 8/27/04