Justice Department to Defend Partial-birth Abortion Ban

The U.S. Department of Justice will appeal decisions in three courts which rejected the ban on a late-term abortion procedure.
( [email protected] ) Sep 29, 2004 05:46 PM EDT

The U.S. Department of Justice will continue its battle to “protect innocent new life,” announcing Tuesday it will appeal rulings made by judges in Nebraska and New York striking down the Partial Birth Abortion ban.

The Justice Department gave notice Monday in the 8th and 2nd Circuit Courts of Appeals that it intends to appeal the two decisions, department spokesman John Nowacki said Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf ruled the ban on the late-term abortion procedure unconstitutional on Sept.8, following similar rulings in New York and San Francisco. An appeal to the San Francisco ruling has already been filed by the Justice Department.

Kopf said in his ruling that he rejected the ban for two main reasons: it poses an undue burden on a woman's right to an abortion and does not make an exception in the case where the woman's health is in danger, both which the Justice Department said it will challenge in the appeal.

Partial-birth abortions are conducted as late as the second trimester of pregnancy. The procedure involves the unborn child being partially delivered and then its skull being punctured or crushed.

Doctors who perform abortions refer to the procedure as “intact dilation,” “extraction,” or “D&X,” terms considered by pro-life advocates as euphemisms to an unethical practice. Most Christians oppose the procedure along with any form of abortion due to a belief that life begins at conception.

One pro-life Catholic group supports the Justice Department’s appeal efforts.

"We commend the U.S. Department of Justice for its vigorous defense of the ban on partial-birth abortion," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., spokesperson for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "There is no place in a civilized society for this cruel and inhumane practice."

New York Judge Richard Casey, who ruled against the act because it lacked a health exception, also made similar comments on the procedure during his ruling, calling partial-birth abortion "a gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure."

President Bush banned partial-birth abortions by signing the Congress-approved measure in November 2003. However, since the ban was constitutionally challenged in three federal courts, it has not been enforced pending the courts decisions.

Legal experts expect the case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, which allowed abortions in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case.