Background: This legislation bans a particularly brutal and inhumane abortion method in which the child is removed from the womb feet-first and delivered except for the head. The abortionist thrusts scissors into the base of the child’s skull, inserts a catheter through the opening, and suctions out the child’s brain. This procedure is never medically necessary. Many recognize partial-birth abortion for what it is: infanticide.
The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was previously approved by the 104th and 105th Congresses. The bills were vetoed by President Clinton. Action in the 106th Congress was stalled when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Stenberg v. Carhart opinion (6/28/2000), in which it declared Nebraska’s partial-birth abortion ban law unconstitutional. A revised bill was passed by the 108th Congress. On November 5, 2003, President Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act into law (Public Law 108-105).
Judicial: Abortion advocates challenged the law in the three different federal courts: the District of Nebraska, Southern District of New York, and the Northern District of California. In all three courts the PBA Ban Act was struck down.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft appealed the California ruling on August 3, 2004, the New York and Nebraska rulings on September 27 and September 28, respectively. Oral argument was heard for the Nebraska case on April 14, 2005.
In the Nebraska case on July 8, 2005, a three-judge panel of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth District upheld the ruling of the lower court that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was unconstitutional because it did not contain a “health exception” as required by the Stenberg v. Carhart decision.
On September 23, 2005, the Nebraska case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and renamed Gonzales v. Carhart (Docket No. 05-380). Early in January 2006 the Court is expected to announce whether it will accept this appeal