In the coming days, President Bush is expected to sign into law the first federal abortion ban in United States history. In conference last night, the House and Senate conferees reached agreement on the abortion ban. Pro-choice members offered several amendments, including an amendment that would allow doctors to perform the safest procedures to protect their patients' health, these were all rejected. Members also dropped the Senate amendment affirming support for Roe v. Wade.
"We will challenge this unconstitutional ban the second it's signed into law by President Bush," said Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "As the U.S. Supreme Court has already affirmed, bans like these threaten women's health, we will do everything in our power to prevent this harmful legislation from taking effect."
The so-called "partial-birth abortion" ban is virtually identical to a Nebraska ban struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court three years ago in Stenberg v. Carhart, a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Dr. LeRoy Carhart. The Center will represent Dr. Carhart in the new challenge.
Although proponents of the ban claim that only "late-term" abortions would be prohibited, the Center's legal and medical experts affirm that the ban would outlaw safe abortion procedures used as early as 12 weeks. The ban also contains no health exception.
So-called "partial-birth abortion" bans criminalize many abortion procedures with severe penalties on doctors that include imprisonment and fines. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which represents over 90 percent of all physicians specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, rejected the bans as "inappropriate, ill advised, and dangerous."