Ohio Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Becomes Law, Challenge Dropped

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 29, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Ohio Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Becomes Law, Challenge Dropped

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 29, 2004

Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — In a surprise development and an unexpected victory for Ohio pro-life advocates, an Ohio abortion practitioner has dropped his challenge to a state law banning partial-birth abortions.

Martin Haskell, who runs abortion businesses in Cincinnati and Dayton and is credited with inventing the partial-birth abortion procedure, had filed suit against the law.

Last year, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of the ban on the gruesome abortion procedure. In April, the full 12 judge appeals court declined to hold a hearing on Haskell’s challenge.

Attorney Al Gerhardstein told the Associated Press that he didn’t think Haskell had a very good chance of getting a hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court.

"This is the first case like it. The prospects for the issues we have in our case being heard are very slim," Gerhardstein said.

Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro said he had expected Haskell’s lawyers to file an appeal of the Appeal Court’s decision and take the case to the Supreme Court.

Pro-life advocates in Ohio are pleased that, as a result of the decision, the partial-birth abortion ban will take effect

Brad Mattes, executive director of Life Issues Institute, called the development a "momentous victory for innocent human life and pro-lifers everywhere."

In June 2000, the Supreme struck down a Nebraska law banning partial birth abortion. Ohio’s statute is the only state partial birth abortion ban that has been upheld by any court since the Nebraska decision.

Though pro-life advocates normally oppose health exemptions in such laws, Ohio’s law has a very limited, carefully-drawn exception for circumstances when the health of the mother would be endangered "by a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function".

The Nebraska law and the federal partial-birth abortion ban, currently being challenged by three lawsuits filed by abortion advocates, have exceptions only to save the life of the mother.

Most partial-birth abortions are performed on healthy mothers and healthy babies. Haskell has conceded that more than 80% of the partial-birth abortions he has performed are on unborn children with no physical problems.

In 2001, U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice determined the Ohio law was unconstitutional because it would not allow partial-birth abortions to be performed, even though abortion advocates claim the abortion procedure is safe for women.

Studies have shown that, in addition to other risks normally associated with abortion, women who have partial-birth abortions have a greater risk of a premature delivery in pregnancies following the abortion.

The case was Women’s Medical Professional Corp. v. Taft.