A San Francisco federal judge today ruled that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act is unconstitutional and threatens a woman's choice. It is the first ruling in three trials challenging the constitutionality of the law, which was passed in November 2003 and bans a controversial procedure sometimes used in late-term abortions called the intact dilation and extraction, or so-called partial birth abortion. U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled in a 117-page decision that the law "poses an undue burden on a woman's right to choose a second-trimester abortion" and is "unconstitutionally vague."
Elizabeth Cavendish, interim president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, a Washington-based abortion rights group, lauded Hamilton's ruling as a "great decision for today" but predicted it would not stand if President Bush continues to appoint lower court judges she contends are hostile to women's right to choose. "He's poised to nominate judges to the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v. Wade," Cavendish said in a news release. "If Bush gets the chance to fill multiple seats on the Supreme Court, not only this decision, but the fundamental right to choose itself will be at risk." A Justice Department spokesman could not issue a response at deadline. -- by Mark Taylor