Back to All Press Release

Supreme Court Fails New York Women By Upholding Unprecedented Federal Abortion Ban, NYCLU Says

The New York Civil Liberties Union today condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Federal Abortion Ban, which bans many second-trimester abortions without providing an exception for cases in which a woman’s health is in danger.

“We’ve said it, our clients have said it, the medical establishment has said it, and we’ll say it again now: The Federal Abortion Ban represents an unprecedented and dangerous federal intrusion into women’s health,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director. “It threatens women in medical crises and undermines New York’s ability to provide a safe haven for all women who need abortions. For a state that has repeatedly rejected attempts to ban abortion procedures, the Supreme Court’s ruling is a devastating blow.”

The court’s 5-4 ruling rejected challenges by women’s health advocates to the Federal Abortion Ban (called by its sponsors the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act”), which President Bush signed into law in 2003 and which is the first-ever federal law to ban a medical procedure.

The court ruled today on two challenges to the federal abortion ban: Gonzales v. Carhart, brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Dr. LeRoy Carhart and three other physicians, and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, brought by Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of its affiliates throughout the country.

A third challenge to the ban, National Abortion Federation v. Gonzales, was brought by the NYCLU, the ACLU, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, and the ACLU of Illinois on behalf of the National Abortion Federation and seven individual physicians. In 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit put that case on hold until the Supreme Court issued a decision in the other two cases. Today’s Supreme Court decision requires that the Ban be upheld in this case as well.

“This is a dark day for women’s health and safety,” said Galen Sherwin, Acting Director of the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project. “The Supreme Court today has disregarded both the medical opinions of leading doctors and more than 30 years of its own established law by upholding a far-reaching abortion ban that fails to include protections for women’s health.”

New Yorkers are exploring state legislation to further protect the right to choose.

In a dissent to today’s opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the ruling “alarming” and states that it “tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”

More information about the legal challenges to the Federal Abortion Ban is online at

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
© 2024 New York
Civil Liberties Union