Thursday, June 7, 2007

Federal Court overturns restrictive Michigan abortion law

From Medical News Today:
A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Monday upheld a lower court decision that declared unconstitutional a Michigan law banning so-called 'partial-birth' abortions, ruling the law poses an 'undue burden' on women seeking the procedure, the New York Times reports (Sander, New York Times, 6/5).

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in March 2005 filed suit in federal court to prevent enforcement of the state law, known as the Legal Birth Definition Act, which would have changed the legal definition of birth to the first moment any part of a fetus is outside a woman's body. The measure, which became law in June 2004, was scheduled to take effect on March 30, 2005, but U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood approved a temporary restraining order preventing it from being enforced.

Hood in her ruling called the law confusing and vague and said its exceptions for the health or life of a mother are irrelevant and unconstitutional. ...

The three-judge panel ruled that the Michigan law is broader than a federal law (S 3), upheld in April by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that the state law potentially could apply to abortions using other methods earlier in pregnancy, the Detroit Free Press reports....

Judge Boyce Martin, writing for the court, said the Michigan Legislature took a "dragnet approach" to regulating the procedure and "showed no meaningful attempt to comply with the constitutional limitations articulated by federal courts in the area of abortion law."

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