by Steven Ertelt
October 21, 2005
San Francisco, CA (LifeNews.com) — Attorneys for the Bush administration told the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a national ban on the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure. They said the court should defer to Congress and its findings that the three-day long abortion method is never necessary to protect a woman’s physical health.
"Congress is due respect as a coequal branch of government” and is "better situated (than the courts) to amass and weigh evidence,” Justice Department lawyer Gregory Katsas said during hearings on the case.
After President Bush signed the ban into law, advocate advocates filed three separate lawsuits against it and federal district court judges in San Francisco, New York, and Nebraska all over turned the law. They cited a 2000 Supreme Court ruling mandating that such bans have a health exception, which makes virtually all partial-birth abortions legal.
Three judges on the appeals court panel appeared to agree with Planned Parenthood lawyers who said the Congressional findings, statements of fact and research added to the bill, contradicted the claims of some who testified during Congressional hearings.
Planned Parenthood, which filed the San Francisco lawsuit, says some pro-abortion people testified during hearings that the abortions were needed to help women in certain medical situations.
Yet, During the district court trials, 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."
But, according to an Associated Press report, Judge Stephen Reinhardt pointed to the Supreme Court’s ruling saying lawmakers can’t ban partial-birth abortions "if there is substantial evidence supporting medical necessity."
Regardless of how the appeals court rules, and it is expected to uphold the district court ruling overturning the ban, the case will proceed to the Supreme Court. Another case is already headed there and the third is expected to join it as well following another appeals court’s ruling.
The outcome of the case could depend on how fast the Senate approves a nominee to replace outgoing pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was the deciding vote in the 5-4 2000 decision invalidating a state partial-birth abortion ban.
President Bush signed the partial-birth abortion ban into law in November 2003.
"For years a terrible form of violence has been directed against children who are inches from birth while the law looked the other way,” Bush told a crowd of 400 pro-life lawmakers and pro-life advocates upon signing the bill.