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Abortion Bans Reconsidered After Supreme Court Decision

Abortion bans in Missouri and Virginia that had never gone into effect may now be enforceable following the Supreme Court’s decision last week to uphold a federal ban on an abortion procedure. Requests from Missouri and Virginia attorney generals to review these two bans were pending when the highest court made its decision last Wednesday. The Supreme Court has ordered that the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals review its decision to overturn a Virginia ban on so-called “partial birth” abortions that lacked a health exception and that the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals review a similar Missouri law.

Both laws were almost immediately enjoined after passing and were found unconstitutional in their respective appellate courts, principally because they lacked an exception for the health of a pregnant woman. On Monday, the Supreme Court asked the appellate courts to reconsider “in light of” last week’s ruling, which permitted the ban of a specific procedure without a health exception.

Said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, “We’re concerned because the Supreme Court has taken a major shift in its jurisprudence, and the Court of Appeals could follow the Supreme Court’ It would put doctors under pressure from both state and federal prosecutors,” the New York Times reports.

While the Federal Abortion Ban will go into effect across the country within several weeks, state laws can carry harsher penalties greater than that of the federal ban, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America. Under the Missouri law, for example, doctors can be penalized with life in prison if found guilty of violating the ban.

Sources:

NARAL release 4/25/07; Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report 4/25/07; Washington Post 4/24/07; St. Louis Post-Dispatch 4/24/07; AP 4/24/07; VA NOW 4/24/07

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