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Law Threatens Women's Health; Criminalizes Safe, Early Abortions

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the federal abortion ban in the cases Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood and Gonzales v. Carhart.  The ban, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2003, criminalizes abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy that doctors say are safe and the best to protect women's health.  Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) denounced the ruling. 
"This ruling flies in the face of 30 years of Supreme Court precedent and the best interest of women’s health and safety," said PPFA Deputy Director of Litigation and Law Eve Gartner, who argued Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood.  "Today the court took away an important option for doctors who seek to provide the best and safest care to their patients.  This ruling tells women that politicians, not doctors, will make their health care decisions for them."

“Today's decision is a shocking setback for women's health," added Gartner. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her dissent, ‘…the Court deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice, even at the expense of their safety.’

When President Bush signed the federal abortion ban in 2003, PPFA, Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG), the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Abortion Federation and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged it in federal district courts around the country.  Leading ob/gyns at major medical institutions testified against the ban because it would prevent them from providing the care that is best to protect their patients' health.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Nurses Association and many other medical groups oppose the federal ban.  Until now, every court that examined the ban struck it down because, among other things, it fails to protect women's health.

"This ban was driven by anti-choice politics, and unfortunately, the ruling does not respect women's health,” said PPGG President Dian Harrison.  "While the Bush administration has been appointing justices to the Supreme Court who threaten women’s health, Planned Parenthood has been focused on our top priorities: the health and safety of our patients.  We will work to ensure women are provided with the best and safest possible care under this law."

Just seven years ago, the Supreme Court had struck down a very similar abortion ban enacted in Nebraska because it did not have a health exception, with Justice O'Connor providing the critical vote that upheld protections for women's health and safety.  Since then, Justice O’Connor retired and was replaced on the court by Justice Alito.

"The new Bush court turned its back on women's health and safety with this ruling," said PPFA President Cecile Richards. "It's 2007. Americans need Supreme Court justices who recognize the importance of women's health."

For more information, visit www.federalabortionban.org.  To get involved, support Planned Parenthood today and speak out on the reckless Supreme Court decision. 


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Erin Kiernon, 202-973-4975


May 13, 2014