The U.S. Supreme Court let stand an Ohio appeals court ruling, in Voinovich v. Women’s Medical Professional Corp., that overturned a ban on “partial-birth” abortions. The Supreme Court justices did not offer an explanation for the decision.
Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia all voted to hear the case. Thomas said the Supreme Court’s decision “cast unnecessary doubt on the validity” of laws passed in 38 states that limit reproductive rights.
The Ohio law to ban some late-term abortions was passed three years ago, was immediately challenged and never enforced. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the law unconstitutional due to vague wording describing the banned abortion procedure and the lack of exemptions for women who would have suffered “severe psychological or emotional injury” without the abortion.
Simon Heller of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy in New York said the court’s refusal to hear the case “should be a wake-up call to state legislators across the nation that the Constitution does not allow them to interfere with women’s personal medical decisions.”
Alphonse Gerhardstein, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said the court’s decision was “a decisive victory for doctors and women’s reproductive freedom … [and] a clear message to lawmakers that they must put the Constitution over politics.”
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