The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld a decision striking down Rhode Island’s ban on late term abortion on Monday. Thirty-one states have passed similar legislation since 1995. Of these, 21 have now been struck down as unconstitutional by federal court. The so-called “partial birth” abortion bans proliferated at the state level after President Clinton vetoed similar bills passed by Congress in 1995 and 1997.
According to the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, the vast majority of these bans do not target just one abortion procedure, but feature language that “would criminalize the safest and most commonly used abortion methods,” effectively re-criminalizing abortion. Given the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, federal courts have repeatedly been compelled to strike down “partial birth” abortion bans such as the one in Rhode Island.