Federal abortion ban is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced

The federal abortion ban passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush last year is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, Federal District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton ruled yesterday (1st June 2004).

The ban, challenged in Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) v. Ashcroft, could have outlawed abortions as early as 12 to 15 weeks in pregnancy, including those that doctors say are safe and among the best to protect women's health.

Planned Parenthood Los Angeles hailed the ruling and questioned the Bush administration's efforts to enforce the blatantly unconstitutional ban. "Today's ruling is a landmark victory for medical privacy rights and women's health," said PPLA President and CEO Mary-Jane Wagle. "The Ashcroft Department of Justice can no longer threaten Planned Parenthood doctors with the daunting specter of criminal prosecution for putting their patients first.

Decisions involving pregnancy are personal decisions for a woman and her family. Medical decisions are for her doctor to make, based on his or her professional judgment. These decisions should not be made by politicians." Judge Hamilton's ruling prohibits Attorney General Ashcroft and his successors from enforcing the law against doctors who provide abortion services for Planned Parenthood, whether they are working at Planned Parenthood or elsewhere, doctors to whom Planned Parenthood makes referrals, and medical providers in San Francisco. "In their zealous pursuit of this dangerous ban and their attempt to seize hundreds of confidential medical records, this administration has squandered vast amounts of U.S. tax dollars to appease anti-choice extremists and fulfill an ideological agenda," Wagle said. "We nevertheless predict that neither the Constitution nor the cost to American taxpayers will deter Attorney General Ashcroft's anti-choice crusade. Planned Parenthood is fully prepared to go back to court to protect the right to medical privacy and the right to choose abortion."

PPFA brought its suit on behalf of PPFA; Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG), the affiliate in San Francisco; and the physicians, staff and patients of Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide.

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