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September 17, 2003


Communications Department

Congress Pushes Forward with Ban on Safe Abortion Procedures

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

Washington, DC - The Senate leadership this week is continuing its push to pass a ban on safe abortion procedures, and we fully expect that President Bush will sign this legislation into law. 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 block its enforcement.

Our fight to safeguard the lives and health of women will move from Congress to the courtroom as soon as the President signs the bill into law, because it is doctors and their patients, not politicians, who should 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 the Senate will take up this week has those same two flaws. In every state where these bans have been challenged, the courts have declared them unconstitutional and blocked their enforcement.

Our members provide care for the women who would be hurt by this legislation. They are medical professionals with the expertise and experience to make sound decisions that are in the best interest of their patients - expertise and experience politicians clearly do not have.


Status of the so-called "partial-birth abortion" ban in the 108th Congress:

When the Senate passed the ban last spring, it included a measure reaffirming Roe v. Wade, which is not included in the House-passed version. The fate of this measure will continue to be debated this week, and will be followed by a Senate vote. The ban will then go to a House and Senate conference committee before it is forwarded to the President to be signed into law.


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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