by Steven Ertelt
April 24, 2007
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — In a decision following up on its ruling last week upholding a national ban on partial-birth abortions, the Supreme Court has sent a Missouri abortion case back to a federal court with instructions to apply the new decision. The case concerns a 1999 Missouri law banning partial-birth abortions.
In November 2005, the a federal appeals court upheld a federal judge’s decision striking down Missouri’s ban on partial-birth abortions.
But, as a result of the high court’s ruling in the Gonzales case last week, state partial-birth abortion bans are now constitutional and the Missouri ban is now expected to go into effect.
Paula Gianino, who heads Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper that the abortion business plans to comply with the new state law and would provide legal support to abortion practitioners in the state.
"We fully expected the Missouri law would go into effect as a result of last week’s ruling," Gianino said.
After the high court unveiled its decision last week, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the injunction against the state law. Though he favors abortion, Nixon had defended the law in court and challenged rulings claiming it was unconstitutional.
Scott Holste, a spokesman for Nixon, told the newspaper he didn’t know when the appeals court would address the request, but its decision will likely be the final one that allows the law to permanently go into effect.
Looking back at the legal battle, a federal judge prohibited state officials from enforcing the partial-birth abortion ban just one day after the state legislature approved it in 1999, overriding a gubernatorial veto.
After years of legal wrangling, U.S. District Judge Scott Wright declared the measure unconstitutional in 2004 saying the Supreme Court in 2000 ruled all such bans need a health exception. Pro-life groups oppose such exceptions because they render all such abortions legal.
Wright has heard previous abortion lawsuits and has generally struck down pro-life laws passed by the Missouri General Assembly. However, federal courts — and even the Supreme Court — have overturned his decisions.