The Center for Reproductive Rights brought this case on behalf of Nebraska abortion provider Dr. Leroy Carhart to challenge Nebraska’s method ban on abortion. That law was part of a wave of similar state bans passed in the early 1990s at the urging of abortion rights opponents, who invented the inflammatory term “partial-birth abortion” as part of their advocacy strategy. The term has no medical meaning, and the bans were written in broad terms that encompassed almost all methods of abortion.
Many of these new bans were challenged in lawsuits, and most, but not all, of the bans were struck down by the lower federal courts. Although both the Nebraska district court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Nebraska ban, the State appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court and the Supreme Court agreed to take the appeal.
Summary: On June 28, 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in our favor, striking down the Nebraska ban by a vote of 5-4. , The Court found that the statute was unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey for two reasons: (1) because it did not include an exception for abortions needed to preserve the woman’s health, and (2) because the law was written so broadly that it banned abortions by the D&E method, which is the safest and most common procedure used for abortions performed after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The Court’s decision rendered similar bans in over 30 states unconstitutional or unenforceable.
However, in April, 2007, the Supreme Court dealt a striking blow to our victory in Stenberg v. Carhart when it upheld a federal abortion ban that contains no exception for women’s health.