8th Circuit Court rules 'partial birth' ban unconstitutional

Friday, July 8, 2005

Upholding a previous decision by a lower court, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled that the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act is unconstitutional because it does not provide an exception for the health of the woman.

While the ban does provide an exception for the life of the mother it does not for the health of the mother.

"When `substantial medical authority' supports the medical necessity of a procedure in some instances, a health exception is constitutionally required," Judge Kermit Bye of the 8th Circuit wrote in the opinion.

"In effect, we believe when a lack of consensus exists in the medical community, the Constitution requires legislatures to err on the side of protecting women's health by including a health exception." Judge Bye went on to say.

The decision upheld a previous ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf of Lincoln, Neb. Federal judges in New York and San Francisco have also ruled in decisions overturning the ban. The decisions have been appealed and are expected to eventually be addressed by the Supreme Court.

President Bush signed the ban in 2003, but due to legal challenges it has not been enforced.

Read the full opinion.