A U.S. federal court of appeals has upheld a lower court ruling which says the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is unconstitutional.

The court ruled Friday that while the law made an exception for saving the life of a mother, it did not make an exception for preserving the health of the woman.

President Bush signed the Act into law in 2003, but it was never enforced because of legal challenges.

The U.S. Justice Department argued that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was prohibiting a particularly "gruesome, inhumane" procedure that was "never necessary to preserve the health of women."

The ban refers to an abortion procedure usually done in the second trimester of a pregnancy where the fetus is partially removed from the womb and the skull is punctured.

Some information for this report provided by AP.