Members of Congress File Brief in Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Case

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 22, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Members of Congress File Brief in Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Case Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 22, 2006

Washington, DC ( — A pro-life law firm has filed a brief in the upcoming Supreme Court case on the national ban on partial-birth abortions for 78 members of Congress who supported the bill. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) delivered the brief to the high court on Monday.

"The Supreme Court has a critical opportunity to step in and draw a bright line that would bring an end to a horrific procedure that can only be described as infanticide," said Jay Sekulow, the law firm’s chief counsel.

The Supreme Court has addressed the issue of partial-birth abortion before when it rejected a Nebraska ban on the grisly abortion procedure on a narrow 5-4 ruling. It said the ban was unconstitutional because it lacked a health exception — even though the three-day long abortion procedure is never necessary to protect a woman’s health.

"Congress acted appropriately in crafting the national ban on partial-birth abortion," Sekulow said. "It’s also clear that the government has a vital and compelling interest in preventing the spread of the practice of abortion into infanticide."

After Congress approved the federal version of the ban, abortion businesses and practitioners took it to court in three separate cases. The brief asks the high court to reverse a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit which declared the ban unconstitutional.

The appeals court cited the Nebraska ruling in its decision, but Congress inserted an extensive findings section explaining that the 2000 ruling was wrong because health exceptions are unnecessary.

The ACLJ brief refers to those findings and says Congress spent more than eight years deliberating the question of partial birth abortion.

"Congress’s judgment that the procedure as defined in the PBA Act should be prohibited in order to reflect American society’s horror at infanticide is entitled to considerable respect and deference," the brief concludes. "The Eighth Circuit’s invalidation of that considered judgment was erroneous and should be reversed."

Oral arguments are expected in the case during the next term of the Supreme Court, which begins in October.

The outcome of the case could be determined by the Supreme Court’s two new justices.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who is expected to vote to uphold the ban, replaced former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who voted for the Nebraska ban in 2000.

Justice Samuel Alito is also expected to uphold the ban and he replaced retiring pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the deciding vote and the justice who wrote the opinion in the Nebraska case. Alito’s vote would swing the court 5-4 in favor of upholding the partial-birth abortion ban.

The case is Gonzales v. Carhart, No. 05-380.

Related web sites:
American Center for Law and Justice –