Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Trials Will Begin in March

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Trials Will Begin in March

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 20, 2003

Washington, DC ( — President Bush’s request for expedited hearings on the legal challenges filed by abortion practitioners and pro-abortion groups against the partial-birth abortion ban have prompted three courts to set late March dates for trials on the complaints.

Earlier this month, three separate federal judges in New York, Nebraska and California issued temporary injunctions preventing the Bush administration from enforcing the ban.

Normally the delay between the issuance of the injunctions and a complete trial on the issues involved could be a year or more. Knowing that, Bush’s attorney’s put forward a proposal agreeing to not enforce the ban for 120 days if the courts would set earlier dates for hearings.

The courts have responded and trials have been set for March 29 in all three courts where the pro-abortion lawsuits were filed.

"Every day that passes is another day that premature infants, mostly in the fifth and sixth months, will be mostly delivered alive before being painfully killed by the puncturing of their skulls and the removal of their brains," responded Doug Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee.

"We commend the Bush Administration for pushing for expedited judicial review, in order to allow the ban on the brutal partial-birth abortion method to take effect as soon as possible," Johnson added.

The main point of division in the legal proceedings thus far has been whether or not partial-birth abortions are ever medically necessary to protect the health of a mother. The Supreme Court previously ruled that a health exception is necessary for a ban to pass constitutional muster.

However, pro-life lawmakers included a lengthy findings section meant to counter health exception arguments. The research includes testimony from doctors that the three-day-long partial-birth abortion procedure, where an unborn child’s head is crushed, would never be an option any doctor would consider to help a mother in a difficult pregnancy.

The judges appeared to lean against accepting the findings on face value.

The Bush administration is seeking "an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Congress’ findings are reasonable.”

"The parties are in fundamental disagreement as to the medical necessity of partial-birth abortion and … this issue is one of medical evidence, not merely of law,” President Bush’s lawyers wrote.

They indicated they would provide significant medical testimony from doctors during the hearings that would back up the Congressional findings.

Regardless of the outcome of the trials, appeals are expected by the losing side.

The lawsuit will likely travel through the federal Appeals Court system and eventually make its way to the Supreme Court, that previously rendered a 5-4 decision opposing a similarly worded Nebraska ban on partial-birth abortions.