A measure banning certain surgical abortion procedures was ruled unconstitutional and unenforceable by a federal Judge in New Jersey Tuesday.
Although abortion rights opponents claim that the measure would only ban late-term abortions, many doctors and abortion rights advocates charge that the ambiguous wording of the ban could intimidate doctors and prevent them from performing any surgical abortions. Judge Anne Thompson felt that the ban would endanger the legality of all abortions and violate women’s constitutional rights.
Under the ban, women would not have been punished for receiving a late-term abortion. However, the measure dictated that doctors who perform abortions could lose their medical licenses and be required to pay a $25,000 fine.
New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman vetoed the bill because she believed the bill was unconstitutional. In December 1997, lawmakers voted to override Whitman’s veto, and leaders now feel an appeal will most likely be attempted.
Twenty-eight states have passed similar bans on late-term abortions, according to the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy in New York. Nineteen of those state bans have either been overturned or reduced due to unclear language or a lack of exceptions made when a woman’s life is threatened by a pregnancy.
The United States Congress has passed a similar ban twice, which President Clinton has vetoed each time.