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Federal Abortion Ban Struck Down In New York

A federal district court today struck down the federal abortion ban known as the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003,” because it fails to provide any exception to protect women’s health. The New York Civil Liberties Union hailed the decision as a great victory for women and reproductive health care providers.

“A federal judge has wisely considered what Congress overlooked in passing this law—this ban was a danger to women’s health,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU.

In today’s decision, the court concluded that “[t]he Act as whole cannot be sustained because it does not provide for an exception to protect the health of the mother.” In addition, the court noted that several of Congress’s factual findings about the ban are unsupported.

“The ban was a broad attack on second-trimester abortions and an unprecedented intrusion into New York’s pro-choice policies,” said Rebekah Diller, Director of the NYCLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “This is an important victory for all who value a woman’s right to safe and legal abortions.”

In June, a federal court judge in San Francisco struck down the federal abortion ban in a challenge brought by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Dr. LeRoy Carhart and several individual physicians also brought a challenge to the ban in Nebraska. A ruling is expected in that case later this year.

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) brought the challenge in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. NAF and seven individual physicians were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the NYCLU and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in the case.

NAF is the professional association of abortion providers in the United States and Canada. NAF members care for more than half the women who choose abortion each year in the U.S. and work at clinics, doctor’s offices, and hospitals throughout the country, including premier teaching hospitals.

The case is National Abortion Federation v. Ashcroft No. 03 Civ.8695 (RCC).

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