ACLU and National Abortion Federation Ask Appeals Court to Uphold Ruling Striking Down Federal Abortion Ban

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
October 6, 2005 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The National Abortion Federation, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, today asked the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a lower court ruling striking down the Federal Abortion Ban, saying the ban fails to protect women’s health.

“Four separate courts, including the federal disctrict court here in New York, have ruled that the Federal Abortion Ban jeopardizes women’s health and is clearly unconstitutional,” said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of NAF. “Today, we’re asking this appeals court to reconfirm that doctors – not politicians – should decide what medical care is best for their patients.”

The ban in question prohibits abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy and includes no exception to protect women’s health.

In August 2004, a U.S. district court judge ruled that the ban, known as the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003,” “cannot be sustained because it does not provide for an exception to protect the health of the mother.” In addition, the court noted that several of Congress’s factual findings about the ban are unsupported.

“For more than 30 years, courts have consistently held that abortion restrictions cannot endanger women’s health,” said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “We are confident that the court of appeals will likewise value women’s health and uphold our victory.”

Signed by President Bush in November of 2003, the ban in question was immediately challenged in federal courts in New York, Nebraska, and San Francisco. All three courts permanently blocked enforcement of the ban, and in July of this year the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Nebraska court’s ruling striking the ban. Late last month, the U.S. Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to review that decision.

Medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose the federal ban.

The case in question is National Abortion Federation v. Gonzales, No. 04-5201 cv. The ACLU, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Illinois represent NAF and seven individual physicians in this challenge to the federal ban.

NAF is the professional association of abortion providers in the United States and Canada. NAF members care for more than half the women who choose abortion each year in the United States and work at clinics, doctors’ offices, and hospitals throughout the country, including premier teaching hospitals.

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