Appeals Court Finds Kentucky Abortion Ban Unconstitutional
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOUISVILLE, KY – Taking its lead from the Supreme Court’s ruling last month in Stenberg v. Carhart, a federal appeals court today upheld a lower court’s decision striking down Kentucky’s ban on so-called “partial-birth abortion.”
“This is a clear victory for abortion rights,” said Catherine Weiss, Director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “In affirming the district court’s opinion, the Sixth Circuit recognized the Kentucky law for what it is: a dangerous and broad attack on abortion rights.”
The law in question, Kentucky’s 1998 ban on so-called “partial-birth abortion,” does not substantially differ from Nebraska’s ban or from similar laws in more than two dozen other states.
In its brief opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit wrote: “After carefully reviewing the decision in Carhart we conclude that it is controlling in this case, and that the district court was correct when it held that the Kentucky statute is unconstitutional.”
“This decision should send a clear message to courts throughout the country still considering challenges to other states’ bans on safe abortion procedures,” said the ACLU.
“As the Supreme Court ruled,” said Stephen Hut Jr., a partner in the Washington, D.C., firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering and cooperating attorney to the ACLU in the case, “these bans both disregard women’s health and set up insurmountable roadblocks in the paths of women seeking to exercise their constitutional rights.”
“We are heartened by today’s decision, but cautious about what the future will bring,” added Weiss. “Even before the Supreme Court ruled in Carhart, courts across the country consistently blocked the enforcement of the majority of these bans passed in the states. None of these losses deterred anti-choice forces from introducing copycat bans in other states.”
On Friday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Philadelphia, issued a similar decision in an ACLU challenge to a comparable abortion ban in New Jersey.
Today’s case, Eubanks v. Stengel (No. 98-6671) was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by A. Stephen Hut Jr., Kimberly A. Parker, and Matthew P. Previn of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering as cooperating attorneys for the ACLU, Catherine Weiss and Jennifer Dalven of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, David A. Friedman of the Kentucky ACLU, and Eve C. Gartner of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
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