Hours after President George W. Bush signed the first law restricting
abortion in 30 years, three federal judges issued injunctions against the
law, rendering it temporarily unenforceable. Passed by Congress on October
20 and signed by Bush on November 5, the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003
provides for fines and imprisonment of physicians who perform certain second-
and third-trimester abortions.
Abortion providers filed suits in California, Nebraska, and New York,
saying that the law was unconstitutional because it did not provide an exception
to protect the health of the mother. (In 2000, the US Supreme Court ruled
that a similar Nebraska law was unconstitutional on those grounds.) All three
courts agreed that the cases had merit and handed down the injunctions, which
cover most abortion providers in the United States, including all 850 clinics
operated by Planned Parenthood.
Vastag B. Judges Ban Abortion Ban. JAMA. 2003;290(22):2929. doi:10.1001/jama.290.22.2929-a