HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Supreme Court Grants Cert. to Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act

From Willamette Law Online – Willamette University College of Law comes the news that the Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood case.  The Ninth Circuit opinion can be found here:  435 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2006);

Here is the Williamette Law Online summary of the case:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is unconstitutional on three grounds,invalidated the law, and permanently enjoined enforcement of the law in its entirety.


Immediately after President George W. Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (Act), 18 U.S.C. Sec 1531(b)(1), into law in 2003, thePlanned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (Planned Parenthood) filed suit, claiming that the Act violates constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The City and County of San Francisco successfully intervened as a plaintiff. In 2004, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (District Court) found the Act unconstitutional on three grounds and entered a permanent injunction against its enforcement. First, the Act was held to impose an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose to terminate pregnancy before viability because it creates a substantial risk of criminality for virtually all abortions performed after the first trimester. Second, the District Court found the Act unconstitutionally vague. The District Court reasoned that the Act’s use of unrecognized medical terms inhibits fair notice to physicians and encourages arbitrary enforcement. Finally, the District Court held that the Act’s failure to include a health exception is unconstitutional. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Court of Appeals) affirmed the District Court’s decision, stating the Act unconstitutional on all three grounds and also affirmed enjoinment of the Act’s enforcement in its entirety as the proper remedy. The United States Supreme Court granted Certiorari. [Summarized by Viva Foley.]


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