- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A third federal judge ruled yesterday that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is unconstitutional, saying it failed to include an exception when a woman’s health is in danger.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf in Lincoln said Congress ignored the most-experienced doctors in determining that the banned procedure never would be necessary — a finding he called “unreasonable.”

“According to responsible medical opinion, there are times when the banned procedure is medically necessary to preserve the health of a woman, and a respectful reading of the congressional record proves that point,” Judge Kopf wrote. “No reasonable and unbiased person could come to a different conclusion.”

The abortion ban was signed last year by President Bush, but was not enforced because three federal judges — in Lincoln, New York and San Francisco — agreed to hear constitutional challenges in simultaneous nonjury trials.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Richard C. Casey in New York said the Supreme Court has made it clear that a banned procedure must allow an exception to preserve a woman’s health — even as he called the abortion procedure “gruesome, brutal, barbaric and uncivilized.”

In June, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in San Francisco also found the law unconstitutional, saying it “poses an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose an abortion.”

All three decisions were expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court. The Justice Department had filed an appeal of the San Francisco ruling, saying it “will continue to defend the law to protect innocent new life from partial-birth abortion.”

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