Supreme Court to hear abortion law dispute

Feb. 21, 2006 at 3:53 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- With two new conservative justices aboard, the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday agreed to reconsider the constitutionality of so-called partial-birth abortions.

Three federal appeals courts have invalidated the 2003 federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act that contains no exception for the health of the mother, The Washington Post reported.

The law does, however, allow doctors to escape penalties when such abortions are necessary to save the mother's life. The procedure involves partially delivering a fetus and then crushing its skull before the delivery is completed.

Doctors call the procedure dilation and extraction.

The Supreme Court Tuesday accepted an appeal from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, to which the Planned Parenthood Federation of America reacted quickly.

"The Supreme Court's decision to hear this case is a dangerous act of hostility aimed squarely at women's health and safety," Cecile Richards, the group's president, told The New York Times.

Like the two previous federal appeals courts, 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the federal law citing a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban.

That decision was a 5-4 ruling in which retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor voted with the majority.

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