The 4th U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case concerning Virginia’s 2003 ban on the intact dilation-and-extraction procedure used for late-term abortions. A three-judge panel of the court has twice struck down the ban, but Virginia’s anti-choice attorney general, Bob McDonnell, asked the full appellate court to rehear the case.
The most recent ruling, in May, found the Virginia law unconstitutional because it imposed an undue burden on a woman’s right to obtain a second-trimester abortion. The state statute is similar to the federal ban on the late-term abortion procedure upheld by the Supreme Court last year in Gonzales v. Carhart, but does not protect doctors who intend to perform another type of dilation and extraction and accidentally use the banned procedure.
The decision from the appellate court is expected to come within weeks.