Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Trial Begins, Opening Statements Given

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 29, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Trial Begins, Opening Statements Given

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 29, 2004

New York, NY ( — The first of three separate trials of lawsuits filed by those seeking to overturn the ban on partial-birth abortions began on Monday in New York. An attorney for the National Abortion Federation, a trade group of abortion businesses, said the abortion ban was unconstitutional for a variety of reasons.

Attorney A. Stephen Hut told U.S. District Court Judge Richard Casey that the ban should be declared unconstitutional for many reasons, including its vagueness and that it lacks an exception allowing abortions to protect a woman’s health.

"[O]ur evidence will show the court that this act unconstitutionally compromises a woman’s right to reproductive choice and it is designed to remove the abortion alternatives," Hut told the court, the Associated Press reports.

Hut said the trial would include descriptions of partial-birth abortions that are "very raw" and "not for the faint of heart."

But one pro-life law firm that has filed a firend-of-the court brief in the cases says that’s good news. Pro-life groups have cited the educational aspects of the partial-birth abortion ban as a second reason to put forward the legislation.

"The opportunity to present testimony showing the horrific nature of this procedure is an important ingredient in defending the national ban on partial-birth abortion," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice.

NAF insists that partial-birth abortions must remain legal to help women in rare, severe medical cases.

"The law has no exception to protect a woman’s health; it prohibits abortions doctors say are safe and medically appropriate. To safeguard women’s health, medical decisions must be made by doctors and not by politicians," said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation.

But many doctors insist that’s not the case.

The Physicians’ Ad Hoc Coalition for Truth (PHACT) — a group of over 600 physician-specialists (mostly in obstetrics, perinatology, and related disciplines) — says partial-birth abortions no only are unnecessary to protect the health of a woman, but actually do more harm than good.

In September, 1996, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and other PHACT members wrote members of Congers saying that "partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary to protect a mother’s health or her future fertility. On the contrary, this procedure can pose a significant threat to both.”

“We, and many other doctors across the United States, regularly treat women whose unborn children suffer … serious conditions," the group adds. "Never is the partial-birth procedure medically indicated. Rather, such infants are regularly and safely delivered live, vaginally, with no threat to the mother’s health or fertility.”

The Bush administration agrees.

"[T]his violent practice is unnecessary, as well as painful and cruel to the partially-born child," Monica Goodling, a Justice Department spokeswoman said. "A bipartisan majority in Congress reached this conclusion after eight years of testimony from respected medical professionals who stated that partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary."

Regardless of the outcome of the district court trials, the results will likely be appealed to the federal appeals court level. Beyond that, they will almost certainly land at the feet of the nation’s high court.

"This is the beginning of a very long legal road that ultimately leads to the Supreme Court of the United States," said

The abortion businesses that belong to Saporta’s group are responsible for more than half of all abortions performed in the United States annually. Planned Parenthood is the single largest abortion business.