ACLU of Virginia Joins Nationwide Day of Action for Reproductive Rights -- Urges Supporters to Call Members of Congress Today to Support Freedom of Choice Act

Richmond, VA — In the wake of its decision last week upholding a federal law banning so-called partial birth abortions, the U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to review a ruling in which it struck down a similar Virginia law as unconstitutional.
The Virginia law, passed in 2003, closely followed the federal statute approved by Congress earlier that year. Both laws ban the so-called partial birth abortion procedure and neither contains an exception to allow the procedure when it is necessary to safeguard a woman’s health.
Previous Supreme Court rulings required that any burden placed on a woman’s right to choose must contain an exception for a woman’s health, but last Wednesday, in Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, five of the nine justices upheld the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 despite the missing exception.
“The Supreme Court’s decision is a major setback for women’s rights and the principle of personal autonomy,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “We can only hope that the Fourth Circuit takes a skeptical view of the Supreme Court’s decision when it revisits the Virginia law.”
The ACLU of Virginia is joining other pro-choice organizations across the nation in asking its members and supporters to call members of Congress today to urge them to become sponsors of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would guarantee the right of reproductive freedom promised in Roe v. Wade for future generations of women.
“We are trying to generate as many calls as we can to members of Congress to get them to reaffirm their commitment to reproductive rights,” added Willis.
The Virginia law was struck down in June 2005, when a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit voted 2-1 against it. The Fourth Circuit relied on longtime Supreme Court precedents requiring the woman’s health exception and more specifically a 2000 Supreme Court decision, Stenberg v. Carhart, in which the high court struck down a nearly identical Nebraska state law.

Contact: Kent Willis (w) 804/644-8022