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Supreme Court to Review Federal Abortion Ban That Would Outlaw Abortions as Early as 12 to 15 Weeks in Pregnancy

WASHINGTON, DC — Today Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) called on the U.S. Supreme Court to protect women's health and safety after the court announced it will hear Gonzales v. Carhart, a case challenging the federal abortion ban. The ban, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2003, would outlaw abortions as early as 12 to 15 weeks in pregnancy that doctors say are safe and the best to protect women's health.

"The Supreme Court's decision to hear this case is a dangerous act of hostility aimed squarely at women's health and safety. Despite 33 years of Supreme Court precedent that women's health matters, the court has decided it will once again take up this issue," said Cecile Richards, president of PPFA. "Health care decisions should be made by women, with their doctors and families — not politicians. Lawmakers should stop playing politics with women's health and lives."

Every court that has examined the federal abortion ban has struck it down because, among other things, the ban does not protect women's health. Just six years ago, the Supreme Court itself struck down an abortion ban passed by the state of Nebraska because it did not have a health exception, and Justice O'Connor's was the critical vote that upheld protections for women's health and safety. Of course, Justice O'Connor has retired and been replaced on the court by Justice Alito.

"Today's actions by the court are a shining example of why elections matter. When judges far outside the mainstream are nominated and confirmed to public office by anti-choice politicians, women's health and safety are put in danger," added Richards.

When President Bush signed the ban in 2003, PPFA, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Abortion Federation and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged it in federal district courts around the country. Every court that has examined the federal abortion ban has struck it down because, among other things, it does not include protections for women's health. Major medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Nurses Association and many other medical and health care associations oppose the federal ban.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Erin Kiernon, 202-973-4975
Erin Libit, 202-973-4883


May 11, 2014