Justice Department To Appeal Decisions Against Federal Ban on So-Called ‘Partial-Birth’ Abortions
The Department of Justice on Monday informed the 8th and 2nd U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals that it plans to appeal Nebraska and New York district court rulings, respectively, that struck down a federal ban on so-called "partial-birth" abortion, DOJ spokesperson John Nowacki said Tuesday, the Omaha World-Herald reports (Tysver, Omaha World-Herald, 9/29). In the Nebraska case, DOJ said it plans to challenge U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf's ruling that the law does not include an exception to protect a pregnant woman's health and that it poses an "undue burden" on a woman's right to abortion, the AP/Sioux City Journal reports (O'Hanlon, AP/Sioux City Journal, 9/29). Earlier this month, Kopf became the third judge to strike down the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (S 3).
President Bush signed the law in November 2003, but federal judges in San Francisco, New York and Nebraska each issued temporary restraining orders to prevent enforcement of the ban. The restraining orders were issued in response to lawsuits filed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the National Abortion Federation and the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of four abortion providers. Each lawsuit alleged that the law is unconstitutional because of the absence of a health exception. In place of a health exception, the law includes a long "findings" section that documents medical evidence presented during congressional hearings that, according to supporters of the law, indicates that the procedures banned by the law are never medically necessary. U.S. District Judge Richard Casey of New York -- who has called the banned procedure "brutal, barbaric and uncivilized" -- last month struck down the law, saying that it is unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has "made clear" that a health exception is required for any such law (California Healthline, 9/9).
DOJ already has filed an appeal of the San Francisco ruling striking down the ban, the AP/ Journal reports (AP/Sioux City Journal, 9/29). U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the Northern District of California in June ruled that the federal ban is unconstitutional. Hamilton's ruling prevented the law from being enforced against the 900 PPFA clinics nationwide and PPFA-affiliated physicians (California Healthline, 9/9). Many legal experts expect the case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the AP/Journal (AP/Sioux City Journal, 9/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.