Legislation / Court Cases

Justice Department Pursues Partial-Birth Abortion Case (2/04)

 Attorney General John Ashcroft and Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers are embroiled in a National Abortion Federation (NAF) lawsuit over partial-birth abortion.

 

Ashcroft has been sued by the NAF over the recently-passed partial-birth abortion ban by Congress and signed by Pres Bush. The NAF & 7 physicians are resisting efforts of the DOJ to gain access to the medical records from these physicians to learn if the partial-birth abortions they performed were medically necessary under the ban… 

A federal judge in New York said that the doctors opened themselves up to DOJ scrutiny when they filed their lawsuit vs. Ashcroft. Judge Casey stated that no right to privacy would be invaded because personal information would be blocked out.

“…I will not – hear me out loud and clear – I will not let the doctor hide, not let the doctors hide behind the shield of the hospital. Is that clear? I am fed up with stalls and delays…. You cannot prevent this discovery being accomplished by stalling this or by hiding behind, as I say, the shield of the hospital.” [status conference in NAF v. Ashcroft to plaintiff doctors and their lawyers 5Feb04]

DOJ spokesman Monica Goodling has published a detailed explanation of the legal issues involved in this case:  “In considering the Partial Birth Abortion Act, the Congress…found that a ‘moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion… is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited.’

 

Pres Bush signed the bill into law: ‘By acting to prevent this practice, the elected branches of our government have affirmed a basic standard of humanity, the duty of the strong to protect the weak….And the executive branch will vigorously defend this law against any who would try to overturn it in the courts.’…

 

[Exc

erpts from previous DOJ filings]: “…Congress found…that this method of killing a living fetus- performed on fetuses that are at or near viability-…perverts the birth process, blurs the line between abortion and infanticide, and confuses the medical, legal, and ethical duties of physicians to preserve life. Congress also found that partial-birth abortion imposes severe pain on the fetus.” 

 

“Congress specifically found that partial-birth abortion poses serious risks of its own to the health of a woman undergoing the procedure. Those risks include…cervical incompetence, potentially hindering a woman’s ability to carry a subsequent pregnancy to term, and a risk of lacerations and severe hemorrhaging from a doctor forcing a sharp instrument into the base of the skull of the fetus while it is lodged in the birth canal. Additional risks include that of uterine rupture, abruption, amniotic fluid embolus, and trauma to the uterus as a result of any conversion of the fetus to a footling breech position…” 

 [12Feb04 , Www.Usdoj.Gov]