U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Virginia Abortion Ban
Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a Virginia abortion ban by a vote of 6-5. The decision reversed a 2-1 panel ruling in May 2008 that struck down the law on grounds that it would impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to obtain abortion care.
The 2008 ruling affirmed the same court’s 2005 decision to strike down the abortion ban, a ruling that prevented Virginia’s law from taking effect. However, in 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal abortion ban and ordered the appeals court to reexamine the Virginia ruling. Like the federal law, Virginia’s act prohibits certain abortion procedures after the first trimester and lacks an exception to protect women’s health.
In his dissenting opinion to the Wednesday decision, Judge M. Blane Michael emphasized that the Virginia law could also impose criminal liability on doctors who seek to perform legal abortions.