Hoyer-Kolbe "Late-Term Abortion Restriction Act" Would Constitutionally Ban Late-Term Abortions
WASHINGTON - House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) today introduced the bipartisan Hoyer-Kolbe "Late-Term Abortion Restriction Act."
The Late-Term Abortion Restriction Act prohibits all late-term abortions, irrespective of procedure, with exceptions only to protect the life of the mother or to avert "serious, adverse consequences" to her health.
"The Hoyer-Kolbe Late-Term Abortion Restriction Act bans all late-term abortions with exceptions only for the life and health of the mother. It addresses the heart of the late-term abortion debate - when and not how abortions are performed," said Rep. Hoyer.
"I oppose all late-term abortions, and want to do everything I can to reduce the number of abortions," said Rep. Kolbe. "The Late Term Abortion Restriction Act is a real attempt to ban partial birth abortions and other late-term abortions by recognizing the realities of the courts and respecting the doctor-patient relationship."
The Act addresses the issue of late-term abortion in a manner that is broadly accepted around the country, resembling laws in 41 states.*
"This bill offers a constitutional, common-sense, common-ground compromise in the abortion debate that protects mothers and viable fetuses," added Hoyer.
In contrast, "The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act," which Congress enacted in the 108th Congress, only bans a single abortion procedure, and it has been found unconstitutional in federal courts.
Unlike the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Late-Term Abortion Restriction Act focuses on when abortions are performed. This ban would include partial-birth abortions after viability.
"Congress continued to play politics with abortion when it passed The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. It is unenforceable because it is unconstitutional, and by its very nature it will not prevent a single abortion. The American people would like to see Congress come to a compromise on this difficult and personal issue," concluded Hoyer.
In Stenberg v. Carhart (June 2000), the Court held that Nebraska's "partial-birth" abortion ban was unconstitutional because it (1) lacked the requisite exception for the preservation of the health of the mother and (2) impermissibly placed an "undue burden" upon a woman's right to choose an alternative abortion procedure that is commonly used before fetal viability. In her concurring opinion, Justice O' Connor wrote that "a ban on partial birth abortion that only proscribed the D & X method of abortion and that included an exception to preserve the life and health (emphasis added) of the mother would be constitutional in my view."
The Congressional findings in the language of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act were included in an effort to alter the facts upon which Stenberg was decided. The Act deliberately excludes an exception for the health of the woman because the findings suggest no health exception is necessary. This clearly puts the Act in constitutional jeopardy.
*Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
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