Virginia Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Has Federal Appeals Court Hearing

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 26, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Virginia Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Has Federal Appeals Court Hearing Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 26, 2004

Richmond, VA ( — Virginia state officials defended a ban on partial-birth abortions in a federal appeals court hearing on Tuesday. The state is arguing in favor of the pro-life law after a district court judge ruled the ban unconstitutional.

In May, U.S. District Judge Richard Williams declared the law too vague, claimed it violated women’s right to privacy, and failed to include a health exception.

Williams originally blocked the law in July 2003 and issued an injunction preventing it from being enforced, calling lawsuit filed by abortion advocates a "no brain case."

A three judge panel from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard the appeal Tuesday, where William Thro, the state solicitor general, urged the members to send the case back to Judge Williams for a complete trial. Williams only issued a summary judgment ruling.

While attorneys for pro-abortion groups called the law similar to a Nebraska one the Supreme Court overturned in 2000, Virginia legislators attempted to define partial-birth abortions as infanticides — making the legislation different in its description of the abortion procedure and banning it under different sections of law.

Thro also said that the law has a life of the mother exception and explained that a health exemption is not needed because the three-day long abortion procedure is never necessary in a medical emergency.

Thro said the law deserves a full trial at the district court level. In striking down the law, Judge Williams threw out testimony offered by a doctor and medical literature and information submitted by the state to defend the law.

Pro-life groups strongly support the legislation.

"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 Society for Human Life, told

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion New York-based law firm, filed suit against the law on behalf of a well-known Richmond abortion practitioner.

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.

Public opinion polls show that a ban is supported by a vast majority of the American people.

Related web sites:
Virginia Society for Human Life –