by Steven Ertelt
September 15, 2005
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — A Michigan law that bans partial-birth abortions by defining exactly when an unborn child has been birthed is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood in Detroit ruled the Legal Birth Definition Act can’t be upheld because she claims it puts an "undue burden" on obtaining a legal abortion.
Hood also claims the law is vague and its exceptions for the life of the mother unconstitutional.
"The act does not describe any specific procedure to be banned,” Hood wrote. "The act also does not distinguish between induced abortion and pregnancy loss.”
In April, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox issued a legal opinion saying the law is constitutional and does not prohibit any more than the partial-birth abortion procedure.
Cox said the law only bans the partial-birth abortion procedure because it defines the abortion as being performed when any part of the unborn child’s body is outside the mother. Abortion advocates said the law was also unconstitutional because it banned more types of abortion procedures that state’s can’t regulate under Roe v. Wade.
He said the new law would not ban other types of abortion because they do not involve the partial birth of the baby before the abortion is performed.
However, Judge Hood disagreed and said it would ban other second trimester abortion procedures.
In a statement, the Michigan Catholic Conference said it disagreed with the decision and would urge Cox to appeal.`
The state legislature gave final approval to the Legal Birth Definition Act in June 2004 after Governor Jennifer Granholm vetoed the bill. Pro-life groups obtained the signatures of over 460,000 people to bring the measure before the legislature in a veto-proof form.
While the courts struck two previous partial birth abortion bans in Michigan in 1996 and 1999, supporters of the Legal Birth Definition Act say it was specifically written to pass the constitutionality tests.
In a strange twist, Judge Hood did not notify the state and the abortion businesses who sued to over turn the law of her ruling. The litigants were not informed about the late Wednesday decision until notified by the media.
While President Bush signed a Partial-Birth Abortion Ban into law, the federal version differs from Michigan’s in that it expressly bans the partial-birth abortion procedure while the Michigan law relies on a definition of the birthing process. The federal law is currently being blocked until its constitutionality can be determined.