by Steven Ertelt
October 26, 2006
Cincinnati, OH (LifeNews.com) — A federal appeals court held a hearing Thursday on a Michigan law that would prohibit partial-birth abortions in the state. The Legal Birth Definition Act is a different approach to stopping the gruesome abortions by defining birth in a way that makes the abortion procedure infanticide under state law.
Last September, the Eastern District Court declared Michigan’s statute unconstitutional, but Eric Restuccia, an assistant Michigan attorney general, told the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the law blocks just one abortion procedure and should be reinstated.
She also added, according to an AP report, that Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has told county prosecutors not to apply the law to other types of abortions.
The district court ruled the ban was vague and would apply to more than one abortion method, a point ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri told a three judge panel from the appeals court during the hearing.
"This law is an absolute ban on almost all abortions," Amiri claimed.
The Northland Family Planning abortion business filed the lawsuit against the Legal Birth Definition Act and sought an injunction preventing the measure from being enforced. The ACLU of Michigan, the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America joined the case.
In September, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood ruled the ban can’t be upheld because she claims it puts an "undue burden" on obtaining a legal abortion.
But, previously, Cox, said a ruling by the Supreme Court helps the state’s case.
"While this matter has been on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Ayotte v New Hampshire which held that a federal court has a duty to give effect to the constitutional applications of a statute consistent with the legislative intent," Cox said.
"That is exactly what the Attorney General Opinion I issued last April did," Cox explained.
Cox sets forth three arguments defending the ban: He says the ban applies only to the partial-birth abortion procedure, he says his AGO is binding on prosecutors, and he said the court should defer to the Michigan Supreme Court before ruling on the constitutionality.
However, Amiri told the court that Cox’s opinion is not binding on future attorneys general who may try to use the abortion prohibit to targets abortion practitioners who use other abortion methods.
Cox’s appeal has the support of Right to Life of Michigan.
"One judge overruled what more than 460,000 Michigan citizens put in place," said RLM president Barbara Listing.
"The people of Michigan drained the ink from Governor Granholm’s veto pen by initiating legislation to protect children who are in the process of being born, partially born children the governor chose to ignore," she added.
Hood claimed the law is vague and its exception for the life of the mother is 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.”
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 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.
Federal courts struck down attempts by Michigan lawmakers to ban partial-birth abortions in 1997 and 2001.