The Houses of Parliament, London

Late-Term Abortions Protected in Virginia and in England

May 21, 2008 05:32 PM
by Cara McDonough
The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has deemed Virginia’s 2003 law banning late-term abortions unconstitutional. England voted against lowering the legal cutoff on abortion to 22 weeks.

30-Second Summary

A three-judge panel of the Virginia court made the decision in a 2-1 vote. The ruling “is aimed at a little-used, late-term abortion procedure,” reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

This is the second time the court has struck down the law; in 2005, Judges M. Blane Michael and Diana Gribbon Motz ruled the law unconstitutional. They voted the same way Wednesday.

Last year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar federal law, and told the Richmond-based court to reconsider its 2005 ruling. But Michael wrote that Virginia’s law differs from the federal law because it does not protect doctors who set out to perform standard, second-trimester abortions that accidentally turn into the kind barred by law, known by abortion opponents as “partial-birth abortions.”

Judge Paul V. Niemeyer strongly disagreed, writing, “once again, the choice made by the majority to strike down Virginia’s partial-birth infanticide statute is not compelled by the Constitution or by any Supreme Court case.”

The decision also came a day after Britain’s Parliament voted not to cut the upper limit of abortions from 24 weeks of gestation to 22. Tory MP Nadine Dorries had proposed a 20-week limit, but her plan was defeated 332 votes to 190. The move to propose a 22-week limit was also voted down 304 to 233.

Headline Links: Virginia strikes down late-term ban; England upholds abortion laws

Background: The 2005 Virginia decision

Related Topic: Abortion in America

Reference: The Virginia court’s decision


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