by Steven Ertelt
November 5, 2007
Richmond, VA (LifeNews.com) — Abortion advocates told members of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Virginia’s partial-birth abortion ban is still unconstitutional despite a ruling by the Supreme Court upholding a federal ban earlier this year.
Stephanie Toti, a lawyer with the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, said in the Thursday hearing that the 2003 ban, which a panel of the 4th Circuit struck down in a 2-1 decision in 2005, that the appeals court should follow the decision of its sister 6th Circuit.
That appeals court ruled in June that Michigan’s state partial-birth abortion ban was broader than the federal law and couldn’t be upheld in the same manner as the federal band.
Toti claimed that abortion practitioners doing a slightly different method of abortion — called a "dilation and extraction" — might accidentally violate the Virginia ban and be convicted under it.
But State Solicitor General William E. Thro argued for the ban on behalf of the state and said he couldn’t imagine any accidental violations of the partial-birth abortion ban. If any occurred, they would be so rare that it would be irresponsible to invalidate the ban for that reason alone.
The appeals court judges appeared to disagree with Judge Paul V. Niemeyer challenging Toti’s assertions and Judge M. Blane Michael suggesting that the law could wind up stopping abortion practitioners from doing legal abortions.
Judge Michael and Judge Diana Gribbon-Motz, both Clinton appointees, voted in 2005 to strike down the Virginia ban.
The appeals court is expected to issue a decision in the case in a few weeks but an appeal to the full appeals court or to the Supreme Court is expected no mater which way they rule.
Janet Crepps, legal director of the Center for Reproductive Rights, promised to continue fighting the ban until it’s overturned or their legal options are exhausted.