ACLU Calls Ban on Safe Abortion Procedures Dangerous Political Power Play, Promises to Sue

March 26, 2003 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the so-called “partial-birth abortion” ban that was adopted today by the House Judiciary Committee, calling it an egregious and impermissible restriction on reproductive freedom. If enacted, the bill will be the first federal law criminalizing abortion procedures.

“This bill is nothing more than a political power play by anti-choice lawmakers who are unabashed about endangering women’s health in the pursuit of their extreme agenda,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington National Office. “Opponents of reproductive freedom are simply playing fast and loose with both women’s health and the Constitution. If we have to go to court to stop them, we will.”

The Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., (R-WI), approved the bill this morning on a party-line vote. The measure is expected to soon be considered on the floor of the House, where quick passage is expected. Although President Clinton vetoed two previous versions of the bill, the Bush White House is eager to ratify the legislation.

If the bill becomes the law, the ACLU has promised to file suit immediately on behalf of the National Abortion Federation and its members, as well as several individual physicians.

Since 1995, 31 states have enacted bans on so-called “partial-birth abortions.” In every state where the bans have been challenged, the courts have declared them unconstitutional and blocked enforcement. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Nebraska’s ban unconstitutional because it lacked an exception to protect women’s health and it prohibited several abortion procedures, including the method most commonly used in the second trimester.

The ACLU dismissed supporters’ claims that the current legislation differs substantially from previous bans and would therefore withstand constitutional challenge as “blatantly misleading rhetoric.”

“The anti-choice movement claimed earlier versions of this bill banned only one procedure, but the Supreme Court said otherwise,” Murphy noted. “This bill too bans an array of safe and proven abortion techniques, including the most widely used second-trimester procedure. But that is not all. The bill blatantly ignores the constitutional requirement that any law restricting abortion must contain an exception to protect the woman’s health.”

The ACLU’s “Partial-Birth Abortion Bans: Myths and Facts” can be found at: /node/

The ACLU’s letter to the members of the Committee can be found at: /reproductive-freedom/letter-house-judiciary-committee-urging-opposition-hr-760-so-called-partial-bir

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