ACLU and National Abortion Federation Vow to Defend Federal Abortion Ban Victory As DOJ Pursues Appeal

January 15, 2005 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) vowed to defend a district court ruling striking the federal abortion ban in response to briefs filed in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals by the Justice Department late yesterday.

“We are confident that the court of appeals will recognize the danger this ban poses to women’s health,” said Vicki Saporta, President of NAF, an association of abortion providers. “We are determined to continue our fight to ensure that physicians can care for women consistent with their best medical judgment and free from government interference.”

In August 2004, a district court judge ruled that the ban, known as the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003,” was unconstitutional because it lacked a health exception. The court concluded that “[t]he Act as a whole 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.

“Three lower courts found this ban to be a broad attack on second-trimester abortions,” said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Doctors – not politicians – should decide what medical care is in the best interest of women, and we are committed to defending our success as the case is appealed.”

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.

The ACLU, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Illinois represented NAF and seven individual physicians in their challenge to the federal ban.

The case in question is National Abortion Federation v. Ashcroft No. 04-5201-cv.

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