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Case Challenges Federal Ban that Criminalizes Abortions as Early as 12 to 15 Weeks

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. Planned Parenthood, 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 case likely will be combined with another case challenging the ban, Gonzales v. Carhart, and will be heard this fall.

"This abortion ban would forbid doctors from providing their patients with the care they believe is safest and best, and would give Congress and states a green light to endanger women's health when they restrict women's access to abortion," said Eve Gartner, senior staff attorney for PPFA. "This dangerous law should be struck down, sending a message to politicians to stop legislating medicine."

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 a very similar 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. Since then, Justice O'Connor has retired and been replaced on the court by Justice Alito.

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
Gustavo Suarez, 212-261-4339


May 11, 2014