U.S. Supreme Court grants review
of federal abortion ban
High Court will hear second case involving controversial law
'that more fully implicates the important issues underpinning
a woman's right to reproductive choice
From the Office of City Attorney
June 19, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Supreme Court this morning granted
a petition for writ of certiorari in the matter of Gonzales v.
Planned Parenthood, a government appeal of last January's ruling
by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal that upheld a previous
federal court decision finding the so-called "Partial Birth
Abortion Ban Act" unconstitutional. The high court had previously
granted review in another, similar case from the Eighth Circuit,
but respondents in the Ninth Circuit case -- including Planned
Parenthood and City Attorney Dennis Herrera -- argued that the
new case raised a remedy issue not previously addressed and presented
important distinctions in the constitutional issues at stake.
Uniquely addressed in the Planned Parenthood case, respondents
argued, were issues concerning the vagueness of the federal abortion
ban, and whether the law imposed an undue burden on the rights
of pregnant women.
"We are gratified by the high court's grant of review in
the Ninth Circuit case to which San Francisco is a party,"
said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. "Together with Planned
Parenthood, we're convinced that our case more fully implicates
the important issues underpinning a woman's right to reproductive
choice. It has always been our position that the Act fails to
pass constitutional muster under established Supreme Court precedent
requiring such laws to protect the health of pregnant women."
Herrera intervened in the case in January 2004 on behalf of San
Francisco's Department of Public Health and its employees and
providers, representing the only such involvement by a government
entity in the nation. Since the first federal court ruling in
June 2004, the U.S. Justice Department has been enjoined from
enforcing the abortion restrictions against public health care
providers in the City and County of San Francisco and Planned
The Ninth Circuit case is Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood (05-1382).
The Eighth Circuit case is Gonzales v. Carhart (05-380).