WASHINGTON - September 21 - The American Civil Liberties Union, the New York
Civil Liberties Union, and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) today
submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court calling on the
Court to continue to hold women's health paramount when it hears argument on
November 8th in challenges to a federal ban on abortion. These groups urged the
Court to affirm lower court decisions striking down the ban.
"This law prohibits abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy that doctors
say are safe and among the best to protect women's health," said Vicki Saporta,
NAF President and CEO. "We hope that the Supreme Court will recognize the danger
this ban poses to women's health and allow doctors to continue to make decisions
based on their best medical judgment."
The Court is set to review
two challenges to the federal abortion ban -- called the Partial Birth Abortion
Ban Act by its sponsors -- during the 2006 Term: Gonzales v. Carhart, brought by
the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Dr. LeRoy Carhart and three
other physicians and decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
in July 2005, and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, brought
by Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of its affiliates
throughout the country and decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth
Circuit in October 2005. Both circuit courts struck down the ban.
A third challenge to the federal abortion ban, NAF v. Gonzales,
was brought by NAF and seven individual physicians, represented by the ACLU,
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, the ACLU of Illinois, and the New
York Civil Liberties Union. In January 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit affirmed that the ban requires a health exception and asked for
further legal briefing to determine how to remedy the violation. That case is
now on hold as the other two cases go before the Supreme Court.
"Decisions involving pregnancy and medical care should be left to
a woman and her doctor," said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive
Freedom Project. "Such decisions should not be mandated by politicians."
Medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians
and Gynecologists, oppose the federal ban.
Congress passed the
federal ban and President Bush signed it into law in 2003, despite the numerous
court decisions striking down similar state bans, including a decision in 2000
by the Supreme Court in Stenberg v. Carhart. Courts have consistently struck
down the bans for two reasons: their broad language prohibits abortions as early
as 13 weeks in pregnancy, and they lack exceptions to protect women's health.
Today's brief in Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of
America is the second friend-of-the-court brief filed by the ACLU and NAF.
On August 11, 2006, both organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief in
Gonzales v. Carhart.
NAF is the professional
association of abortion providers in the United States and Canada. NAF members
care for more than half the women who choose abortion each year in the United
States and work at clinics, doctors' offices, and hospitals throughout the
country, including premier teaching hospitals.
The ACLU is our
nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and
communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties
guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the
United States. The NYCLU is the New York affiliate of the
For more information, visit: www.federalabortionban.org