Supreme Court agrees to review partial birth abortion ban


The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Bush administration’s appeal of a ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart, 05- 380, which says the 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act is unconstitutional because it does not make an exception when a mother's health is at risk, reported Bloomberg.

The act bans procedures in which a fetus is partially removed from the mother before being killed. Doctors who violate the law would be subject to criminal and civil penalties. But the law has not yet taken effect. If it does, it would be the first nationwide ban of an abortion procedure since Roe v. Wade.

The U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement argued that the lower court “erred by refusing to accord deference to Congress's findings, including its ultimate finding that partial birth abortion is never medically indicated to preserve the health of the mother.”

Congress’ nine-year study concluded that, contrary to what doctors argue in their challenge of the law, the most common procedure used in partial birth abortions, called intact dilation and evacuation, is not safer than other abortion techniques and creates additional risks for the mother.

Three federal appeals courts have said the 2003 ban law is unconstitutional, the most recent being the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A decision in favor of the federal law would mark an important turning point for the Supreme Court, which in 2000, struck down a similar Nebraska law on a 5-4 vote.

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