A federal appeals court in Virginia has ruled that Virginia’s so-called “partial-birth” abortion ban is constitutional, overturning the decision of the lower courts to enjoin the ban and allowing them to begin enforcing the ban. Judge J. Michael Luttig, who handed down the ruling, is historically conservative and upheld Virginia’s law requiring parental consent to have an abortion last year. He ruled that since state officials seemed clear that the ban would not be relevant to abortions performed the first two trimesters the law had enough clarity for a “reasonable person.”
Abortion rights activists are appealing the case to the US Supreme Court, arguing that the ban is unconstitutional on the grounds that it is too vague (medically “partial-birth” abortion doesn’t exist) and holds no exception clause for situations where the woman’s life is endangered. The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on similar state abortion bans, and passed up a chance to do so earlier this year by letting a decision striking down a similar ban stand. Three other state bans were struck down as unconstitutional in federal courts last week.