House Takes Up Ban on Safe Abortion Procedures

March 25, 2003 12:00 am

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ACLU Calls Bill Dangerous Political Power Play, Promises to Sue


WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today said the so-called “partial-birth abortion” ban, set for consideration this morning before a House subcommittee, 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.

“This bill, if enacted into law, will be the first federal law criminalizing abortion procedures. . It will egregiously and impermissibly limit reproductive freedom.” 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 Constitution Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), of the House Judiciary Committee is set to take up the bill this morning. It will go to full committee on Wednesday and then will face debate 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 and 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 andFacts” can be found at: /node/

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