One Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Trial Done, Judge Won’t Issue National Ruling

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 17, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

One Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Trial Done, Judge Won’t Issue National Ruling

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 17, 2004

San Francisco, CA ( — Of the three hearings on lawsuits filed by abortion advocates against the partial-birth abortion ban, the San Francisco trial is ending first. Following closing arguments by attorneys on both sides, U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton indicated that her ruling will not be national in scope.

Neither side knows just how Hamilton will rule, but Hamilton told attorneys that she will not be issuing a nationwide injunction against the pro-life law.

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood, who filed the San Francisco lawsuit along with that city and their California affiliate, asked Judge Hamilton to issue a ruling overturning the law nationwide.

But, Hamilton said that would be inappropriate with two other trials of lawsuits continuing in federal courts in New York and Nebraska.

"I would have some hesitance to do that," Hamilton said, according to the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

After Planned Parenthood and San Francisco filed the lawsuits, Hamilton issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law against the nation’s largest abortion business and staff at San Francisco hospitals.

Judges in the other two cases issued a more general nationwide injunction.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood lawyer Eve Gartner closed up her side of the debate by saying that partial-birth abortions are sometimes necessary for women with serious health conditions.

She also said the ban would apply to all abortion procedures during the middle stages of pregnancy.

"It could be used by different prosecutors in different ways," Gartner said.

However, Justice Department attorney Scott Simpson indicated that the law is narrowly drawn to ban only one abortion procedure

This week, the California court heard from doctors who confirmed the Justice Department’s position that there are never any instances in which a partial-birth abortion is necessary for women’s health considerations.

Dr. Curtis Cook, an OB/GYN who specializes in high-risk pregnancies and pregnancies with complications, told the court he didn’t believe partial-birth abortions were ever medically necessary.

Cook said the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is on record as saying "there is no situation where they can think that this is the only option available."

"I don’t believe [partial-birth abortions] have anything to offer us in the area of treatment of complicated pregnancies," Dr. Cook, a medical professor at Michigan State University, explained.

Cook also said that partial-birth abortions can be dangerous for women.

"I have grave concerns that the elements of the [abortion] procedure have risks for both immediate complications and long-term complications that I don’t feel justify using the procedure," Cook said.