ACLU Denounces Expected House Passage of Safe Abortion Procedures Ban; Says Lawsuit Planned To Protect Women and Doctors

June 4, 2003 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union denounced tonight’s expected House passage of the misleadingly named “”Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003,”” a measure that callously disregards women’s health in pursuit of an extreme anti-choice agenda, and said it will immediately challenge the ban in court to protect women and doctors.

“”Misinformation fueled this bill,”” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington National Office. “”In their zeal to promote a narrow and unpopular agenda, anti-choice lawmakers insist on using inaccurate and inflammatory rhetoric to hide the fact that this ban will prohibit proven and safe abortion procedures used throughout the second trimester of pregnancy, well before fetal viability.””

As soon as the President signs the bill into law, the ACLU said it will file a lawsuit challenging the ban on behalf of the National Abortion Federation, a professional association of abortion providers whose members perform more than half of the abortions conducted each year in this country and who work at clinics, doctors’ offices, and hospitals throughout the United States and Canada, including premier teaching hospitals.

The ban on safe abortion procedures is expected to pass the House later tonight on a largely party-line vote. The Senate passed a nearly identical measure in March. President Bush has made it clear that he will sign the bill into law.

The ACLU said the House measure is effectively no different from a Nebraska law invalidated by the United States Supreme Court just three years ago. In that case, the Court struck down Nebraska’s ban because it was written so broadly that it criminalized a range of abortion procedures, including the procedure used to perform the overwhelming majority of abortions after the first trimester, and because it failed to include a health exception.

In addition to Nebraska, 30 other states have tried, since 1995, to enact similar bans. In every state where the bans have been challenged, the courts have declared the laws unconstitutional and blocked enforcement.

The bill being debated in the House is so broadly worded that, like many of the bans that have been struck down throughout the country, it makes it a crime for doctors to perform the safest and most common abortion procedures used after the first trimester. Likewise, it fails to include an exception that would allow these procedures when the health of the woman is endangered. An amendment that would add a health exception to the ban is also expected to fail on a party-line vote.

“”It is unconscionable for lawmakers to play fast and loose with women’s health and blatantly disregard the Constitution,”” Murphy said. “”This is a clear case of Congress overstepping its bounds.””

More on the “”Partial Birth Abortion Ban of 2003″” can be found at: /ReproductiveRights/ReproductiveRightslist.cfm?c=148

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