"Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003" Unconstitutional

Anti-Choice Agenda Trumps Sound Public Policy, Risks Women’s Health

In defiance of a Supreme Court ruling striking down a Nebraska ban on so-called “partial birth abortion,” President Bush today signed into law a similar measure known as the “Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003.” Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way, said the bill contains language that is so broad it could forbid some safe and common abortion procedures available to women and that it sets the stage for further encroachments on reproductive freedom.

“This bill is part of an effort to inflame public opinion through the use of deceptive rhetoric. It shifts the focus from the fact that women should make decisions about their own health care with their doctors rather than the government making those decisions,” said Neas. “This bill is an affront to women , defies the U.S. Supreme Court and should be ruled unconstitutional.”

The Senate approved the so-called “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003” in March with an amendment introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) declaring that Roe v. Wade was correctly decided. The amendment, which passed the Senate 52 to 46, was not included in the bill signed by the president.

In addition, the bill does not include an amendment adding a health exception for women in cases when their lives are not at stake but their health is in danger. Given the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Nebraska case, many legal experts believe that the absence of a health exception could render this bill unconstitutional.

“By refusing to include a health exception, the supporters of this legislation have risked a woman’s health and safety for the sake of an anti-choice political agenda. It appears that they are not interested in abiding by the decisions of the Supreme Court or in pursuing sound public policy. Instead they have advanced an agenda that has as its ultimate goal the eventual criminalization of all abortion.”

Opponents of the ban have filed challenges in federal courts in San Francisco, Omaha, Neb., and New York City.

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