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March 10, 2003


Communications Department

Senate Considers Unconstitutional So-Called "Partial-Birth Abortion" Legislation That Would Jeopardize Women's Lives

Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation

Washington, DC - The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is disappointed to see that, in the face of real international and domestic challenges, the Senate has begun debate today on extreme, deceptive and unconstitutional abortion ban legislation.

Despite the Stenberg v. Carhart Supreme Court decision in June 2000 that restrictive abortion bans are unconstitutional, anti-choice legislators have again renewed their efforts to mislead and deceive the American public. Senate bill 3, the so-called "Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003," suffers from the same two constitutional flaws as the Nebraska statute the Supreme Court struck down in the Stenberg v. Carhart case: it is written so broadly as to ban safe abortion procedures used well before fetal viability, and it does not contain an exception to protect a woman's health.

This bill is not about "late-term," or post-viability abortions. It is not about a single abortion procedure. Instead, the ban is so vague as to encompass safe abortion procedures used after 12 weeks and well before fetal viability, with no exception to safeguard a woman's health. The ban is deceptive, it is extreme, and it puts Congress exactly where it does not belong: in the middle of the relationship between a doctor and a patient. In order to continue to protect the lives and health of women, it is important that we leave the practice of medicine to doctors - not to legislators with political agendas.

Congress should not be wasting its valuable time and resources considering this unconstitutional legislation. However, if this dangerous ban is pushed through both houses of Congress by anti-choice legislators and signed into law by President Bush, NAF will immediately file suit in federal court to enjoin it. In order to safeguard women's health, doctors must be able to continue to provide care based on a woman's individual circumstances without facing criminal prosecution.


The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.

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