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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

June-01-99

Wisconsin Abortion Ban Judged Constitutional

A Wisconsin law that bans doctors from performing so-called "partial-birth" abortions was judged constitutional by U.S. District Judge John Shabaz. Shabaz claimed the procedure "is never medically necessary to preserve the health of the woman" and argued that the state of Wisconsin "does have a valid interest in banning the procedure."

A group of physicians and Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin sued the state shortly after the law passed, arguing that the law's wording was vague and could be construed to ban many surgical abortion procedures, and not just the "dilation and evacuation" (sometimes called dilation and extraction) procedure condemned by anti-abortion activists.

One of the doctors who brought the suit testified that he would not continue to perform abortions if the law were to be enacted. "If I am going to be subject to going to jail for the rest of my life, no, I would not continue to perform abortions" said Dr. Dennis Christensen of Madison.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) appealed Judge Shabaz's decision immediately after it was given on Friday. The federal injunction blocking enforcement of the law will continue throughout the appeals process.

In a press statement PPFA President Gloria Feldt contended, "These bans on so-called 'partial birth' abortion violate a woman's constitutionally protected right to choose. Bans in 18 of 20 states have been ruled unconstitutional and we remain confident that a successful legal appeal of today's ruling will restore the constitutionally protected right to safe abortion services for women in Wisconsin."

Media Resources: PPFA and AP - May 28, 1999


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