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Court Reviews Virginia Abortion Decision

The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals will review the constitutionality of a Virginia law banning late-term abortions this fall. The law was already deemed unconstitutional in a 2-1 panel decision in May, but several opponents to the ruling insisted on a re-hearing. Oral arguments are expected to begin in late October.

The law was passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2003 and was ruled unconstitutional in 2005 and 2008. Despite these rulings, Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican running for governor next year, hopes that the law will be upheld, citing its similarity to the federal ban on late-term abortions. The Virginia law, however, does not protect against doctors performing second-term abortions, a key difference between the state and federal laws.

“The Virginia law is extreme in its application,” said Stephanie Toti, a lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights, according to the Associated Press. “It’s basically a ban on a common method of second-trimester abortion.”

A similar Michigan late-term abortion ban was declared unconstitutional last summer after it was decided that the law could prohibit second-trimester abortions.The Supreme Court refused to review the decision.

Sources:

Washington Times 7/28/2008; Times-Dispatch 7/28/2008; Associated Press via the Virginian-Pilot 7/28/2008; Feminist Daily News 6/5/2007