Abortion Advocates File Lawsuits Against Partial-Birth Abortion Ban
by Steven Ertelt
October 31, 2003
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — President Bush won’t sign the ban on partial-birth abortions until Wednesday, yet abortion advocates have already filed three lawsuits against it calling it unconstitutional.
In an unusual legal move, three pro-abortion groups filed suit in various federal courts on Friday to prevent the legislation from becoming law.
"We want the judge to be in a position to issue an order as soon as the bill is signed,” said Priscilla Smith, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion law firm based in New York.
She filed the lawsuit in federal court in Nebraska on behalf of LeRoy Carhart, who performs partial-birth abortions in Omaha.
Pro-life groups say they will seek to defend the ban along with the Bush administration.
"This national ban on partial-birth abortion is well crafted and legally sound and we’re confident that it will survive a constitutional challenge," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which has pledged to assist in defending the new law in court.
"After President Bush signs this measure into law, we’re poised to defend this critical measure as it makes its way through our judicial system — a challenge that will ultimately end up before the Supreme Court," Sekulow added.
Meanwhile, the ACLU filed a similar lawsuit in New York on behalf of the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed suit in federal court in San Francisco for its affiliates nationwide.
"We hope the court will recognize the unconstitutionality of this ban and strike it down," said PPFA president Gloria Feldt.
The Planned Parenthood suit seeks injunction against the bill to prevent it from becoming law and being enforced during the duration of the lawsuit.
A 2000 Supreme Court decision striking down Nebraska’s ban on partial-birth abortions bears Carhart’s name. In the case, decided 5-4 against the ban, justices said the measure was unconstitutional because it failed to include an exception allowing the abortions to be performed in cases where the mother’s "health" is in danger.
Pro-life groups oppose such exceptions because health can be defined as any reason and abortion practitioners are free to continue performing the abortions legally.
In drafting the revised ban on partial-birth abortions, pro-life lawmakers included a lengthy findings section in an attempt to persuade members of the court that the health exception is unnecessary.
Doctors have affirmed that partial-birth abortions are never medically necessary to protect the life or health of mothers or their unborn children.
"I am challenging this new federal ban for the same reasons I challenged the Nebraska abortion ban: it is an attack on women’s right to obtain safe abortions," said Carhart.
Since 1995, thirty-one states have enacted bans on partial-birth abortion.