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3 Federal Courts to Decide Constitutionality of Law Prohibiting Certain Late-Term Abortions - 2004-03-29


Three different federal courts across the United States will begin hearing arguments Monday from opponents of a law that bans a certain type of late-term abortion.

The lawsuits in New York, California and Nebraska challenge the constitutionality of the Partial Birth Abortion Act, which was signed into law by President Bush last November.

The act bars doctors from performing certain types of abortion in which a fetus is partially delivered before being killed. The procedure is known medically as intact dilation and extraction; opponents use the term partial-birth abortion. The law also says the procedure is never necessary to preserve a woman's health.

Opponents of the law, including abortion rights groups and doctors, say the law is too broadly written and could criminalize more common types of abortion. They also say these abortions are, in some cases, medically necessary to preserve a woman's health.

Supporters of the ban say the procedure is inhumane and outside the constitutional parameters of legal abortion.

The case is eventually expected to reach the Supreme Court.

Some information for this report provided by AP.

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