Federal Judge Hears Arguments in Virginia Abortion Procedures Ban Case

On November 24, US District Judge Richard Williams heard arguments on the constitutionality of the Virginia abortion procedures ban. The Virginia law bans procedures it calls “partial birth infanticide,” the Associated Press reports. The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Richmond Medical Center for Women and Dr. William G. Fitzhugh, argues that the term “partial birth infanticide,” which is not a medical term, is defined in the law so vaguely that doctors who perform a common second trimester abortion procedure or certain obstetrical procedures such as helping women through miscarriages could be criminally prosecuted under the ban. Judge Williams accused the defense of using the term “partial birth infanticide” to provoke the public, AP continued.

The Virginia law also does not have a health exception, which the US Supreme Court clearly called for when it ruled a similar Nebraska law unconstitutional in Stenberg v. Carhart. CRR lawyer Suzanne Novak argued during the November 24th hearing, “This case involves the state’s flagrant disregard of the ruling of the US Supreme Court and the health of women in Virginia. The Supreme Court has been clear when they’ve spoken,” AP reports. When Judge Williams blocked enforcement of the ban in July, he called it a “no-brain case.”

CRR represented Dr. Carhart in the Supreme Court case and has filed a lawsuit for him again challenging the federal abortion procedures ban signed into law November 5. The judge in the case has issued a temporary injunction preventing the law from being enforced, as have judges in two other cases challenging the federal ban, LifeNews.com reports. The Feminist Majority joins a coalition of pro-choice organizations in opposing these and similar abortion procedures bans enacted in 29 other states.

The Feminist Majority is one of the four principle groups organizing the huge national March for Choice in Washington, DC on April 25, 2004 along with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the National Organization for Women. “The recent passage of an abortion procedures ban is creating an outrage fueling the march,” Jessica Terlikowski, a Feminist Majority March organizer declared.

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Feminist Daily News Wire; Associated Press 11/24/03; LifeNews.com 11/26/03; Richmond Times Dispatch 11/24/03; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 11/24/03

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