Appeals Court Rules Against Partial Birth Abortion Ban

A federal appeals court judge on Friday upheld a ruling against the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis sided with an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf of Lincoln, Nebraska, who said the federal ban was unconstitutional because it makes no exception for the health of the mother.

"When `substantial medical authority' supports the medical necessity of a procedure in some instances, a health exception is constitutionally required," Judge Kermit Bye of the 8th Circuit wrote in the opinion issued Friday. "In effect, we believe when a lack of consensus exists in the medical community, the Constitution requires legislatures to err on the side of protecting women's health by including a health exception."

Kopf’s ruling followed similar decisions overturning the ban by federal judges in New York and San Francisco. Both those cases have been appealed, but according to the Associated Press, will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Partial Birth Abortion Ban was signed into law by President Bush in 2003, but was not enforced because of the legal challenges.

The federal law would ban a procedure that doctors call “intact dilation and extraction.” In the process, a doctor delivers an intact baby, feet first, until only the head remains in the birth canal. The doctor then pierces the base of the infant’s skull with surgical scissors and inserts a catheter to pull out the brain.

Christian conservatives and pro-lifers consider banning partial birth abortion as one of their top priorities.

The Eighth Circuit “apparently would have us believe that there is a constitutional right to crush the skull of a baby that is halfway out of the mother’s body,” Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel Gary McCaleb said in a written statement. “Americans overwhelmingly reject this barbaric procedure, and it is their will, not the will of courts, that will win in the end.”

The ADF was one of five other Christian organizations that signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief authored by the Christian Legal Society in support of the ban.