HOYER STATEMENT ON RULING THAT PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION BAN IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

For Immediate Release:

June 2, 2004

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, the lead Democratic sponsor of the Late-Term Abortion Restriction Act, released the following statement today following a ruling by a U.S. District Court that the recently enacted “partial-birth” abortion ban was unconstitutional:
 
“Today’s ruling is as appropriate as it was expected.  The ban that was struck down today was clearly unconstitutional and the bill’s proponents knew that but insisted on passing an ideological bill to score political points.  The ban was unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s rulings in both Roe v. Wade and Stenberg v. Carhart, which struck down a similar Nebraska law proscribing partial-birth abortions.
 
“The authors of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act recognized the constitutional infirmity of their bill, and thus sought to alter the facts upon which Stenberg was decided.  Specifically, they rejected the Court’s findings that partial-birth abortion may, in some circumstances, be the safest abortion procedure for some women.  And they tried to ‘deem’ partial-birth abortion never necessary to preserve the health of the woman – an assertion widely disputed by medical professionals.
 
“The proponents’ effort to ‘deem’ this procedure as unnecessary in all cases was an unprecedented and dangerous foray by Congress into the field of medicine and the doctor-patient relationship.
 
“I have tried to find common ground on this issue for several years by sponsoring the Hoyer-Greenwood Late Term Abortion Restriction Act, which would ban abortions in the late stages of pregnancy with exceptions for the life and the health of the mother.  Hoyer-Greenwood is both constitutional and a common-ground approach.
 
“Unlike the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, Hoyer-Greenwood focuses on when abortions are performed rather than how they are performed.  It would ban all late-term abortions, regardless of the medical procedure used, so long as there are exceptions for the life and the health of the mother.  Thus, it comports with the Constitutional requirements articulated in Stenberg v. Carhart.
 
“I am hopeful that we might still seize the common-ground in this emotional and important debate by addressing when and not how abortions are performed, while preserving a woman’s right to choose as defined by Roe v. Wade and Stenberg v. Carhart.”

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