Acting to Protect Women's Health and Rights, Court Blocks Federal Abortion Ban

November 6, 2003 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

NEW YORK – Recognizing that the first-ever federal ban on safe abortion procedures is a sweeping and dangerous measure, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York blocked its enforcement today.

“We are pleased that the court acted quickly to protect women and their doctors,” said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). “Allowing Congress to practice medicine without a license endangers the lives and health of women. We need to ensure that medical decisions are made by experienced and qualified medical professionals. Thankfully, the court understood the gravity of the situation and stopped this law from taking effect.”

NAF is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in its challenge to the so-called “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003” recently enacted by Congress.

Since 1995, similar bans on safe abortion procedures have been enacted in more than half the states and challenged in courts throughout the country. Courts considering these laws — including the United States Supreme Court just three years ago — have consistently struck down the bans because they prohibit a range of safe abortion procedures used well before fetal viability and they endanger women’s health.

“Today’s ruling confirms that it was reprehensible for lawmakers to push through a ban that will harm women in need of critical medical care,” said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “By refusing to include a health exception, lawmakers demonstrated that they are willing to trade women’s health and to flout the Constitution for political gain.”

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 U.S. and work at clinics, doctor’s offices, and hospitals throughout the country, including premier teaching hospitals.

The ACLU has successfully challenged so-called “partial-birth abortion” bans throughout the U.S., including bans in Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, notably winning the first case in the nation to invalidate a state ban.

Today’s case is National Abortion Federation v. Ashcroft, No. 03 CV 8695. Lawyers on the case include Talcott Camp of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project; Rebekah Diller of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lorie Chaiten of the ACLU of Illinois; and Kimberly A. Parker of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering.

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Reproductive Freedom

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is 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 of America.

Learn More About Reproductive Freedom

Reproductive Freedom issue image

The ACLU works to ensure that every person can make the best decision for themselves and their family about whether and when to have a child without undue political interference.