Virginia Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Backed by Pro-Life Group’s Legal Brief
by Steven Ertelt
September 15, 2008
Richmond, VA (LifeNews.com) — Virginia’s ban on partial-birth abortions is headed to a hearing by the full 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and a pro-life legal group has filed a brief in the case arguing it is constitutional. The appellate court agreed in July to a request from pro-life Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell for the hearing.
That decision came after a 2-1 ruling from a three judge panel of the appeals court claiming the law is invalid.
As part of his request for the 12-member court to hear the case, Marshall relied on the Supreme Court’s decision concerning the federal partial-birth abortion ban, in which the high court said a health exception was not necessary to make the ban legitimate.
The appellate court panel said the Virginia ban doesn’t contain a measure the federal one does that allows abortion practitioners not to be prosecuted if they set out to do a legal abortion procedure and wind up doing a partial-birth abortion instead.
In a filing today, Americans United for Life agreed with Marshall and said the Virginia ban is constitutional and should be upheld.
"Time and time again, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that states have a significant interest in protecting women and children from the harm inherent in abortion. That is precisely what the Act does," AUL staff counsel Mailee Smith told LifeNews.com.
AUL vice president and legal director Denise Burke also chimed in and said the three judge panel "split hairs" by "looking for conflict where there was none."
Burke told LifeNews.com that the panel stuck down ‘a law nearly identical to the federal partial-birth abortion ban upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year."
"Courts usually give great deference to legislative enactments, making every effort to find them constitutional and enforceable. Here, the panel did the opposite," Burke continued.
In their brief, AUL argues the usual standard of deference to legislative enactments should apply to Virginia’s Partial Birth Infanticide Act.
The group filed the legal brief on Marshall’s behalf as well as submitting it for ten other Virginia legislators and U.S. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
The case is Richmond Medical Center v. Herring and oral argument is scheduled for October 28, 2008.
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