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US judge says ban on partial birth abortion is unconstitutional

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 10 June 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1398
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

    A federal district court judge in San Francisco has ruled that the law banning “partial birth abortion” is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. The law was passed last November and signed by President Bush, who praised it as ending “an abhorrent practice” (BMJ 2003;327:1009).

    After the ruling President Bush's press secretary said that the president disagreed with the ruling and that the administration would continue to defend the law in the courts. The Department of Justice, which is headed by John Ashcroft, the attorney general and the defendant in the case, issued a statement saying it had worked “to fulfil the goal of the president to protect innocent new life from the practice of partial birth abortion, and we will continue to do so.”

    The law defines a partial birth abortion as a procedure in which the doctor “deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a headfirst presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of …

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