A federal appeals court has ruled that Virginia’s ban on late-term abortions, which was approved by the General Assembly in 2003 over objections from then governor Mark R. Warner (D), is unconstitutional.
In a ruling issued this afternoon, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said the procedures covered under Virginia’s ban “imposes an undue burden on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.”
The ruling will likely reignite the abortion debate in Virginia.
The decision was 2-1. According to the Associated Press, “The appeals court cited a key difference between the federal and state bans on a procedure that abortion opponents call ‘partial-birth abortion.’ The federal law protects doctors who set out to perform a legal abortion that by accident becomes the banned procedure. The Virginia law provides no such protection.”
“The Virginia Act thus imposes criminal liability on a doctor who sets out to perform a standard D&E that by accident becomes an intact D&E, thereby exposing all doctors who perform standard D&Es to prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment,” the majority wrote.
Read the full opinion (PDF).
Plus: Here are some state facts about abortion in Virginia, from the Guttmacher Institute.