Court Upholds Ohio Partial Birth Ban

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A federal court has ruled that Ohio's state partial-birth abortion ban "does not violate the Constitution in any respect". This makes Ohio the first -- and as of this writing the only -- state to have a partial birth abortion ban actually in effect. While such bills have been introduced and passed in many other states, all have been vetoed or put on hold by the courts. A federal law passed in November 2003 has also been put on hold by the courts.

The ruling was issued by a 3-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 17, 2003, with one of the three judges dissenting. The case is Haskell v Taft.

One partial-birth ban case has reached the Supreme Court: In 2000 the court struck down a Nebraska law (Stenberg v. Carhart). But the Sixth Circuit concluded that Ohio's law adequately replied to the grounds that the Supreme Court found for striking down the Nebraska law. The Supreme Court criticized Nebraska's law for being too vague about just what abortion methods were banned, and for not providing an exception for cases when the mother's health is endangered. The Circuit court noted that Ohio's law does include such a health exception: it allows the procedure when there is "a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function". The Circuit court also concluded that the law was sufficiently specific in defining the banned procedure.

The court challenge to the law was brought by Martin Haskell, the abortionist who is generally credited with inventing the partial-birth abortion technique, which he calls "Dilation & Extraction" or "D&X". Haskell may appeal this decision to the full circuit court or directly to the Supreme Court, though as yet he has not brought an appeal.

A "partial-birth abortion" is an abortion in which the unborn baby is delivered feet first up to the neck. With the head still in the womb, the abortionist punches a hole in the back of the neck with a pair of scissors, and then removes the brains with a suction device. The delivery of the now-dead baby is then completed.

A recent Gallup poll (January, 2003) found that 70% of Americans oppose partial-birth abortion.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, 278 partial-birth abortions were performed in Ohio in 2002 (the last year for which statistics are available).

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Posted 7 Jan 2004.

Copyright 2004 by Pregnant Pause
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