ACLU Stands With Others to Protect Women's Rights Even As President Signs So-Called Partial Birth Abortion Ban

November 5, 2003 12:00 am

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Remarks by Gregory T. Nojeim, Associate Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office


Today is a dark day for women’s health and constitutional rights. Today, the President will sign into law the so-called “”Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.”” — the first federal ban on safe abortion procedures in history. The ACLU, on behalf of the National Abortion Federation and several individual physicians, has already filed a lawsuit to block this measure. If the federal government won’t act to protect the lives and health of women, we will.

The ban that will be signed today is effectively no different from a Nebraska ban and similar laws enacted in 20 other states, all of which were subsequently struck down by courts throughout the country, including the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court struck down Nebraska’s law because it was written so broadly that it would have prohibited doctors from performing a range of safe abortion procedures. The Supreme Court also held that the law was unconstitutional because it failed to include a health exception. The bill signed today suffers from these same two fatal flaws.

This bill made its way through both houses of Congress and ultimately to the president’s desk based wholly on misinformation. It was ushered through Congress in the name of a broad anti-choice agenda to demonize abortion. Its supporters used inflammatory rhetoric and hyperbole to drum up support for a bill that, far from banning a single abortion procedure as they claim, in reality criminalizes proven and safe abortion procedures used well before fetal viability, including the method used in more than 90 percent of abortions performed after the first-trimester.

This ban is yet another instance of the federal government inappropriately interfering in the private lives of Americans, dangerously undermining not only the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship but also the very foundation of a woman’s right to privacy. As I said earlier, today, is a dark day for women’s health and constitutional rights, but we are confident that a brighter day awaits as we take this fight to the courts.

For more information on the ACLU’s challenge to this broad and dangerous ban go to:

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