by Steven Ertelt
June 3, 2007
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — A federal appeals court has ruled the Michigan ban on partial-birth abortions unconstitutional in a decision released Monday. The court released the decision because the language of the ban in Michigan is different from the language of the federal partial-birth abortion ban the Supreme Court recently upheld.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said it was reluctant to overturn the law, but indicated that Michigan legislators could have used other bans as models, such as an Ohio ban that it had already upheld.
"We certainly are reluctant to interfere with a statute that represents the will of the elected representatives of the people of Michigan," the appeals court said.
However, the Legal Birth Definition Act was a different approach to stopping the gruesome abortions by defining birth in a way that makes the abortion procedure infanticide under state law. It was needed in part because of the Supreme Court’s first decision in 2000 invalidating a Nebraska ban on partial-birth abortions because it did not contain a health exception.
Federal courts struck down attempts by Michigan lawmakers to ban partial-birth abortions in 1997 and 2001, so pro-life advocates obtained the signatures of 460,000 people for a ban with this new language.
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 that Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has told county prosecutors not to apply the law to other types of abortions.
The appeals court, in its ruling, disagreed with that analysis.
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.
Right to Life of Michigan had supported the appeal of the judge’s decision, saying Hood "overruled what more than 460,000 Michigan citizens put in place."
"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.
The state legislature gave final approval to the Legal Birth Definition Act in June 2004 after Governor Jennifer Granholm vetoed the bill.