Justice Blocks Late-Term Abortion Laws

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens issued an order that temporarily blocks enforcement of Wisconsin and Illinois laws restricting abortions. Stevens has jurisdiction over the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which declared last month the laws in Wisconsin and Illinois constitutional. Had Stevens not intervened, the two laws restricting women’s reproductive health choices would have gone into effect Wednesday.

The decision is intended to give the Supreme Court justices time to consider whether or not to decide on the constitutionality of late-term abortion laws. In the previous months, other federal courts of appeals have ruled similar laws unconstitutional. The Seventh Circuit is the only one to rule such laws constitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court may choose to hear these cases because of the circuit courts’ split on the issue of “partial-birth” abortion. If the Court does decided to hear the case, it will be the first time the justices will address abortion since the 1994 Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, Inc. decision that upheld the constitutionality of buffer zones protecting women’s health clinics.


New York Times - December 1, 1999]

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