WASHINGTON (September 29, 2004) -- This week the U.S. Department of Justice appealed rulings against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act from federal courts in the Southern District of New York and Nebraska.
"We commend the U.S. Department of Justice for its vigorous defense of the ban on partial-birth abortion," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., spokesperson for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "There is no place in a civilized society for this cruel and inhumane practice."
Judge Richard Kopf in Nebraska ruled against the Act earlier this month in a lengthy opinion citing testimony that babies are alive during a partial-birth abortion, that the baby's heart can be seen beating before the head is punctured or crushed, and that partial-birth abortion is "excruciatingly painful for a fetus."
New York Judge Richard Casey called partial-birth abortion "a gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure" but ruled against the Act under his reading of prior Supreme Court cases stemming from Roe v. Wade – in particular, the case of Stenberg v. Carhart. Casey's opinion stated rather bluntly that he "does not believe that many of Plaintiffs' purported reasons for why [partial-birth abortion] is medically necessary are credible." Nevertheless, according to Stenberg, "when there is… a division of medical opinion" about the relative safety of an abortion method, "a health exception is constitutionally required."
"Judge Casey's ruling supports the conclusion that the Supreme Court in Stenberg created an 'abortionist's veto' against a ban on partial-birth abortion," said Ruse.
"We are hopeful that the ban on partial-birth abortion ultimately will be upheld," said Ruse. "But no matter how the legal questions are finally resolved, these trials will have accomplished something extremely significant: they will have gotten the abortion industry on the record, under oath, admitting the horrifying truth about abortion."