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June 4, 2003


Communications Department

House of Representatives' Vote Jeopardizes the Health of American Women

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

Washington, DC - As expected, the House of Representatives voted today to pass a ban on so-called "partial-birth abortion." The politicians who voted to pass this ban on safe abortion procedures made it clear that winning political points was more important than safeguarding the health of American women.

Medical decisions should be made by doctors in consultation with their patients, not by politicians who are not qualified to make medical decisions. Health care providers should not be forced to choose between exercising their best medical judgment or going to jail. Sadly, that is just what this bill would do.

In June 2000 the Supreme Court ruled in Stenberg v. Carhart that a Nebraska ban on so-called "partial-birth abortion" was unconstitutional for two reasons: it did not include an exception to protect a woman's health and its language was so vague that the ban would have prohibited more than one abortion procedure, including the safest and most common methods provided after 12 weeks of pregnancy and well before fetal viability. The legislation that the House passed today has those same two flaws. In every state where these bans have been challenged, the courts have declared them unconstitutional and blocked their enforcement.

Despite these facts, we fully expect that President Bush will sign this legislation into law. In order to prevent this dangerous and unconstitutional ban from taking effect, the National Abortion Federation, represented by the ACLU, will immediately file suit in federal court to enjoin it.

We are suing in order to safeguard the lives and health of women and ensure that doctors are able to make appropriate medical decisions that are in the best interests of their patients.


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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