ACLU and National Abortion Federation Hail First Appeals Court Ruling Holding Federal Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

July 8, 2005 12:00 am

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ST LOUIS – The National Abortion Federation (NAF) and the American Civil Liberties Union today praised a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirming a lower court’s ruling striking down the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.” Today’s decision was the first of a circuit court to uphold one of three permanent injunctions against the sweeping ban.

“We are pleased that the 8th Circuit joined a long line of courts recognizing that abortion bans unconstitutionally jeopardize women’s health and interfere with medical decision making,” said Vicki Saporta, NAF President and CEO. “This ruling confirms the necessity of allowing women and their doctors to make medical decisions free from the interference of politicians.

Today’s ruling upheld a November 2004 decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska in the case Carhart v. Gonzales brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights. It is one of three cases challenging the Federal Abortion Ban signed into law in 2003.

In August 2004, a federal district judge in New York struck down the Federal Abortion Ban in a challenge brought by NAF and seven individual physicians, represented by the ACLU and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (NAF v. Gonzales). In June 2004, a federal district judge in San Francisco struck down the federal abortion ban in a challenge brought by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (Planned Parenthood v. Gonzales). Both cases are on appeal. Arguments in both cases are expected to be heard later this year.

“Today’s decision once again affirms that in passing this far-reaching ban on abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy, Congress and the president played political football with the Constitution and women’s health,” said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “It is time for politicians to stop placing their political agenda above the health of American women.”

The ban also fails to include an exception to protect women’s health. Medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose 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.

The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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