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Ban on 'Partial Birth' Abortion Upheld


The U.S. Supreme Court has for the first time upheld a ban on so-called partial birth abortions in a 5-4 decision, SCOTUSblog reports. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.

Kennedy wrote that the law should be upheld as written, but “as-applied” challenges could still be brought. The decision is Gonzales v. Carhart, No. 05-380 (PDF from SCOTUSblog).

Bloomberg News reports that the case marks a more receptive approach to abortion restrictions by the court.

The ABA Journal reported in a November 2006 article that the Supreme Court struck down a nearly identical ban in Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, now retired, was in the majority.

At that time the court said banning such abortions “could endanger women’s health.” Congress then held hearings to refute that conclusion and passed the new law.

U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement had argued in favor of the law, saying legislatures are entitled to deference in evaluating medical issues.

O’Connor’s replacement was Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who voted with the majority in today’s ruling.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the decision “alarming” in a statement she read for the dissenters, according to scotusblog. “For the first time since Roe [v. Wade], the court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman’s health,” she wrote in her dissent.

Six federal courts had ruled that the abortion restriction was unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports.

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