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August 26, 2004


Communications Department

Federal Abortion Ban Struck Down Today in New York

ACLU and the National Abortion Federation Hail Decision to Protect Women's Health

NEW YORK - A federal district court today struck down (PDF file, 3.8 MB) 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 American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) hailed the decision as a great victory for women and reproductive health care providers.

"We brought this lawsuit to protect women's health and ensure that our member physicians could continue to provide their patients with quality care," said Vicki Saporta, President of NAF. "With today's ruling, women and doctors can continue to make medical decisions free from the interference of politicians."

NAF and seven individual physicians were represented by the ACLU and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in their challenge to the federal ban in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

"We are extremely pleased that the court recognized that the ban threatens women's health," said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "This ban was a broad attack on second trimester abortions and a dangerous attack on women's health."

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.

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.

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 include clinics, doctor's offices, and hospitals, including premier teaching hospitals.

The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Today's case is National Abortion Federation v. Ashcroft No. 03 Civ.8695 (RCC).

To learn about all three challenges to the federal abortion ban, visit federalabortionban.org


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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