Legislative History of the Federal Abortion Ban


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On November 5, 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the first-ever federal ban on abortion, despite a June 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found similar bans to be unconstitutional. To learn more about the 2000 case, see Stenberg v. Carhart.

See the In the Courts section for details on our current challenge to the Federal Abortion Ban. Read the full text of the bill - Bill Number: HR760.

Efforts to Pass a Federal Abortion Ban


  • 1995-1996 - The U.S. Congress passed the first nationwide ban on abortion, which was vetoed by President Clinton. Although abortion foes were able to override the President's veto in the House, Senators sustained the President's action and prevented the act from becoming law.
  • 1997 - Congress passed a slightly amended version of the law, which was again immediately vetoed by President Clinton.
  • 1998 - The House once again overrode the President's veto and the Senate sustained the President's action.
  • 1999-2000 - The Senate and House passed the 1997 version. With the end of the Congressional session, the bill died.
  • June 2000 - The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Nebraska abortion ban, which had been modeled on the federal ban. The case was argued by the Center for Reproductive Rights.
  • 2001 - Neither the House nor the Senate introduced an abortion ban in the 2001 legislative session, though Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Pro-Life Caucus in Congress, said that a federal ban was a top priority for him.
  • 2002 - A new abortion ban that fails to remedy the flaws in the law found unconstitutional in Carhart was passed in the House of Representatives.
  • 2003 - Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the first federal law that banned a specific abortion procedure. The Center for Reproductive Rights immediately challenged the bill in the same federal court and before the same judge who heard the Center's earlier suit against the Nebraska law. Judge Richard Kopf immediately blocked enforcement of the federal law in order to protect doctors’ rights and women’s health while the case proceeds.
  • 2003 - 2004 – The Center for Reproductive Rights, American Civil Liberties Union, National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood of America challenge the Federal Abortion Ban in three separate cases. The law is declared unconstitutional in all trial and appellate courts.
  • 2006 - The Supreme Court agrees to review the Center for Reproductive Rights case, Gonzales v. Carhart.