Letter to Members of the House of Representatives

Urging Opposition to a Partial Birth Abortion Ban

Dear Member of Congress:

In a disappointing vote on March 13, 2003, the Senate passed an abortion ban that is unconstitutional and will threaten women’s health. This deceptively named "Partial-Birth Abortion Act" (H.R. 760) is soon expected to be acted upon by the House of Representatives. The Center for Reproductive Rights (formerly the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy) urges you to oppose this harmful legislation.

Contrary to the misleading claims of the bill’s proponents, this legislation is not restricted to late-term abortion procedures, nor is it restricted to only one method of abortion. Instead, the ban is an extreme measure that sacrifices women's health, applies well before viability, and criminalizes numerous abortion procedures, including the safest and most commonly used methods of abortion in the second trimester.

On June 28, 2000, in Stenberg v. Carhart, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a strikingly similar ban on abortion in Nebraska. The federal bill contains the same two constitutional flaws as the Nebraska ban and defies the Court’s ruling on both grounds: it criminalizes the safest and most common pre-viability abortion methods in the second trimester, and it fails to contain a health exception.

This legislation, which has already been exposed as a sham by the U.S. Supreme Court, should be seen for what it is: an attempt to re-ignite an anti-abortion campaign to eviscerate Roe v. Wade. The Center for Reproductive Rights urges the House to heed the Supreme Court's clear message in Stenberg v. Carhart: sweeping abortion bans that fail to protect a woman's health and forbid some of the safest and most common pre-viability abortion methods are unconstitutional. We urge you to oppose this unconstitutional, deceptive and extreme bill.

For a comprehensive legal analysis of these bans in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Stenberg v.Carhart, please visit our website.

Julia L. Ernst
Legislative Counsel