The Corner

Nrlc On The Ruling

Statement by National Right to Life

on Injunction Against Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act

WASHINGTON (June 1, 2004) — What follows is a comment from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) in Washington, D.C., regarding a development in the legal proceedings related to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which was signed into law by President Bush last November. The Bush Administration is currently defending the law against three separate legal challenges in three different federal district courts.

Today’s development occurred in a lawsuit against the law brought by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) in the federal district court in San Francisco. U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of the ban with respect to the groups that filed that lawsuit. This would apply primarily to affiliates of the PPFA.

Judge Hamilton found that the federal ban on partial-birth abortion ran contrary to U.S. Supreme Court rulings, especially Stenberg v. Carhart, handed down in 2000. In Stenberg, five Supreme Court justices said that Roe v. Wade required states to allow an abortionist to perform a partial-birth abortion essentially whenever he sees fit.

“Judge Hamilton’s deep personal hostility to the law has been evident throughout the judicial proceedings, and is evident in many passages in her 117-page injunction,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. “Other district and appellate judges also will be heard from during the months ahead. It is the U.S. Supreme Court that will ultimately decide whether our elected representatives can ban the practice of mostly delivering a living premature infant and then puncturing her skull. A one-vote shift on the Supreme Court would allow the ban on partial-birth abortions to be upheld.”

The National Right to Life Committee maintains the most comprehensive collection of documentation on partial-birth abortion available anywhere on the Internet, at [here.]

For a good primer on what the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act does and does not do, and on other disputed issues pertaining to partial-birth abortion, see the memo “Partial-Birth Abortion: Misconceptions and Realities,” here.

A collection of key documents pertinent to medical issues surrounding partial-birth abortion are posted here.

Although Congress justified the ban in part its finding that the partial-birth abortion method would cause excruciating pain to the partly born infant, Judge Hamilton dismissed this factor as “irrelevant,” saying that even if it is true it also would apply to dismemberment of the fetus at the same stages. On May 20, Senator Sam Brownback (R-Ks.) and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act. This bill would require that abortions provide women seeking any type of abortion past 20 weeks with certain information regarding the capacity of their unborn children to experience pain and regarding the availability of pain-reducing drugs. For more information on the bill and on the issue of fetal pain, see ….

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