Virginia Abortion Advocates Sue to Overturn Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 26, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Virginia Abortion Advocates Sue to Overturn Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
November 26, 2003

Richmond, VA ( — Pro-abortion forces in Virginia are launching a legal assault against the state’s partial-birth abortion ban.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is trying to overturn the ban, which is designed to prevent babies from being partly delivered, then killed. A number of reputable doctors’ groups have said the practice of partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary for a mother.

The pro-abortion law firm’s attorney, Suzanne Novak, said the Virginia law is unconstitutional because it violates a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a partial-birth abortion ban in Nebraska — even though it was written differently.

During a hearing for summary judgment Monday, Novak said, "This case involves the state’s flagrant disregard of the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court and the health of women in Virginia. The Supreme Court has been clear when they’ve spoken."

Virginia’s Attorney General, Jerry W. Kilgore, has promised to "vigorously defend" the law, which he says was carefully crafted in order to make the constitutionality issue moot.

Pro-life groups were disappointed but not surprised by the lawsuit.

"It’s a very sad situation that babies in the process of being born have their brains suctioned out and that some factions of abortion advocates want to keep the killing legal," Brenda Fastabend, president of the Virginia Socity for Human Life, told

"The Partial-Birth Infanticide Ban passed the 2003 Virginia General Assembly by large bipartisan majorities in both in houses. That the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of a well known Richmond abortion provider would challenge the Virginia law in the courts is par for the course. However the presiding judge rules, his will certainly not be the last word," Fastabend added."

Three federal judges have blocked a similar federal ban on partial-birth abortion from taking effect. Public opinion polls show that a ban is supported by a vast majority of the American people.

While neither the Virginia law nor the federal ban contains a health exception for the mother, sponsors of both measures note that partial-birth abortion is lethal for a child and can be dangerous to a mother as well.

Opponents of the Virginia ban say that the law’s language is too vague and that it could lead to criminal prosecution for abortion practitioners who perform an alternative abortion method, as well as doctors who perform obstetrical procedures to help women who are suffering miscarriages.

Proponents of the law, however, say that it is quite specific and only outlaws partial-birth infanticide. The law prohibits doctors from killing a baby once the baby’s head has emerged from the birth canal, or, if the baby is born breech, once the baby has emerged as far as the navel.

A spokesman for the Attorney General, Tim Murtaugh, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper, "Reasonable people can look at the procedure we’re talking about and see how horrendous it is."

More than half of the states have passed partial-birth abortion bans, although a number of the bans have been overturned in court. It’s been estimated that partial-birth abortions are performed as many as 5,000 times a year, mostly on healthy babies of healthy mothers.

Meanwhile, the director of legislative affairs for the Family Foundation of Virginia, Virginia Cobb, said that the most disturbing aspect of the hearing before U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams was the callousness shown by the pro-abortion lawyer.

"Her complete disdain for the unborn was clear as she nonchalantly described the difference between dismembering a baby inside the womb vs. outside the womb. It was a frightening display that shows what those of us fighting for life are up against," Cobb said.

Related web sites:
Virginia Society for Human Life –