Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Virginia Abortion Restriction

Emily Douglas

A Virginia law that makes doctors criminally liable for performing the "most common" form of second trimester abortion was upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Center for Reproductive Rights announced today.

A Virginia law that makes doctors criminally liable for performing the "most common" form of second trimester abortion was upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Center for Reproductive Rights announced today.  In a release, the Center observed, the 6-5 majority "acknowledged that the ban will, in some
circumstances, force physicians to stop a previability abortion mid-procedure,
to the jeopardy of the patient’s health and well-being."  In other words, if a doctor is conducting an abortion, and the procedure in question is called for, he or she may have to stop the abortion in order to comply with the ban. "“Forcing doctors to
compromise women’s health for the sake of a previable fetus with no
potential for survival is an outrage," said the Center’s Stephanie Toti, who argued the case.

Background on this challenge from the Center:

In 2007, the Supreme Court
ordered the Fourth Circuit to re-evaluate the constitutionality of the Virginia
law after it upheld a more narrow federal ban in the Center’s case Gonzales v.
Carhart
In May of 2008, a
three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit struck down the Virginia law
finding
that it was substantially broader than the federal law, such that “every
time” a doctor set out to perform any standard second trimester abortion,
"he faces the unavoidable risk of criminal prosecution, conviction, and
imprisonment.”  

Dionne Scott, a spokesperson for the Center, says the Center has not decided whether or not appeal the decision.

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