WASHINGTON - August 2 - In an attempt to overturn the federal court ruling that struck down the federal abortion ban passed last year by Congress and signed by President Bush, the Ashcroft Department of Justice filed an appeal today in Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) vs. Ashcroft.
"The abortion ban is a transparent act of hostility toward women's health, the right to medical privacy and the Supreme Court of the United States," PPFA President Gloria Feldt said. "The court was right to strike down this dangerous law and Attorney General Ashcroft is wrong to squander Americans' hard-earned tax dollars to fund his anti-choice crusade. Planned Parenthood is fully prepared to go back to court to ensure that this dangerous abortion ban never harms American women."
PPFA brought its suit on behalf of PPFA; Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG), the affiliate in San Francisco; and the physicians, staff and patients of Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide. The city and county of San Francisco later joined the case.
On June 1, 2004, Federal District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton in San Francisco ruled that the ban is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. The ban could have outlawed abortions as early as 12 to 15 weeks in pregnancy, including those that doctors say are safe and among the best to protect women's health.
Judge Hamilton's ruling prohibits Attorney General Ashcroft and his successors from enforcing the law against doctors who provide abortion services for Planned Parenthood, whether they are working at Planned Parenthood or elsewhere, as well as doctors to whom Planned Parenthood makes referrals.
In an attempted sweeping invasion of medical privacy earlier this year, Attorney General John Ashcroft tried to obtain hundreds of confidential medical records of Planned Parenthood clients. Ashcroft's calculated fishing expedition was in response to the PPFA lawsuit against the federal ban. On March 5, 2004, Judge Hamilton ruled that the Department of Justice (DOJ) did not have the right to view the confidential records.
On March 29, 2003, three federal courts began hearing legal challenges to the "Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003," a law passed by Congress in October 2003 and signed by President Bush in November 2003. The lawsuits were brought by PPFA on behalf of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, the affiliate in San Francisco, and the physicians, staff and patients of Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide; the American Civil Liberties Union and Wilmer Cutler Pickering LLP on behalf of the National Abortion Federation and other doctors; and the Center for Reproductive Rights (CCR) on behalf of Dr. LeRoy Carhart and other doctors. Rulings in the NAF and CCR cases are expected later this summer.
For a more comprehensive summary of the ruling in PPFA vs. Ashcroft, go to http://www.plannedparenthood.org/abortionbantrials