Bush Administration Appeals Injunction on Partial-birth Abortion Ban

The government appealed to the Ninth District Court of Appeals a judge ruling which bars a law that bans an abortion procedure, which punctures the skull and suctions out the brain to kill the fetus.
( [email protected] ) Aug 03, 2004 09:01 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO-- On August 2, the Bush administration appealed a June decision that ruled the partial-birth abortion ban as unconstitutional to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

President Bush had signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in November to end a procedure labeled as inhumane and never medically necessary by pro-lifers.

The act bans an abortion procedure, in which a fetus is partly delivered, punctured in the skull with a sharp instrument, and its brains suctioned out. Such a procedure can take place as late as the second trimester of pregnancy.

Doctors convicted of performing the procedure could be imprisoned for two years under the Act.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation’s largest provider of abortions, and other pro-abortion groups challenged the law before U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton. The judge then placed an permanent injunction on the law, barring US Attorney General John Ashcroft from applying the law to Planned Parenthood clinics.

In its appeal, the government will challenge Hamilton's ruling that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act was vaguely written and might apply to most second- and third-trimester abortions and that the law limited a woman's right to choose.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a board-certified surgeon, has called the procedure brutal, barbaric, and morally offensive.

"It is outside of the mainstream practice of medicine," Frist said during Senate debate on the measure.

If the appeals court permits the ban, the Act will be the first federal limit on an abortion procedure since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling which allowed abortion.

Similar challenges have also brought forth federal judges in New York and Nebraska who have yet to rule. The judges have also placed in injunction on the law pending their decisions.