ACLU and ACOG Act to Protect Women's Health in Ohio

April 29, 2003 12:00 am

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CINCINNATI -The American Civil Liberties Union and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) urged a federal appeals court to strike down Ohio’s ban on so-called “”partial-birth abortion”” in an effort to safeguard women’s health across the state.

“”This law jeopardizes women’s health by taking medical decisions out of the hands of doctors and putting them into the hands of politicians,”” said Jennifer Dalven, Deputy Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and an author of the ACOG friend-of-the-court brief filed in this case.

The ban prohibits physicians from performing safe and proven abortion procedures. The trial court rejected the ban as unconstitutional because it lacked an adequate exception to protect women’s health. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard arguments in the case today.

“”As physicians responsible for safeguarding the lives and health of pregnant women, ACOG’s members are gravely concerned about Ohio’s attempt to micro-manage the practice of surgery,”” said ACOG in its brief. The ban “”strips physicians of discretion to make critical medical judgments, resulting in an unacceptable risk to women’s health.””

Today’s case is the first time the federal government has weighed in in support of a state ban on safe abortion procedures. After the trial court enjoined the ban in 2001, the Justice Department submitted a friend-of-the-court brief urging the appeals court to uphold the ban.

The case before the appeals court today was Women’s Medical Professional Corp. v. Taft, No. 01-4124. The plaintiffs in the case are represented by Alphonse A. Gerhardstein of Lauf & Gerhardstein. The lawyers on the ACOG brief include Dalven of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and A. Stephen Hut Jr. and Kimberly A. Parker of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering.

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