by Steven Ertelt
September 28, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Attorney General John Ashcroft has appealed decisions by judges in New York and Nebraska finding the federal ban on partial-birth abortions unconstitutional. The judges said the ban ran afoul of a 2000 Supreme Court decision because it lacked a health exception doctors say is unnecessary.
Pro-life groups were pleased with the decision and happy the Bush administration is strongly defending a law that could prohibit thousands of abortions, if upheld.
"We commend the Bush Administration for its vigorous defense of the ban on partial-birth abortions," National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson told LifeNews.com.
"This case will end up in the Supreme Court, and whether partial-birth abortion is banned ultimately will depend on who appoints the next Supreme Court justices," Johnson explained.
If so, the election of the next president could decide the fate of the partial-birth abortion ban.
President Bush has repeatedly sent pro-life nominees to federal courts for the Senate’s approve — an indication of the kind of people he would likely appoint to the nation’s high court. Yet, what Democratic nominee John Kerry would do as president is something altogether different, Johnson says.
"John Kerry has pledged to nominate all justices who are already committed to the pro-abortion side," Johnson said.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration has already appealed Judge Phyllis Hamilton’s ruling in San Francisco to the appeals court level.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf became the third judge — following others in California and New York — to rule the abortion ban unconstitutional.
"According to responsible medical opinion, there are times when the banned procedure is medically necessary to preserve the health of a woman and a respectful reading of the congressional record proves that point,” Kopf wrote. "No reasonable and unbiased person could come to a different conclusion.”
But, many doctors groups say women would never need a three-day long abortion procedure in an emergency situation.
Dr. Curtis Cook, an OB/GYN and Michigan State University professor 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."
President Bush signed the ban on partial-birth abortions last year. Kerry voted six times against the ban, which enjoys the support of anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the public, depending on the poll.