US abortion ruling “unconstitutional”

It was the first major limit on abortion law in the US since it was enshrined after the famous 1973 Roe vs. Wade case.

Judge Phyllis Hamilton, a federal judge in San Francisco, said the law is too vague, and restricts women’s rights to choose to have an abortion.

The White House has hit out at the ruling, with spokesman Scott McClellan saying late-term abortion is “an abhorrent procedure that must be ended once and for all.”

The ruling was after a case was brought by Planned Parenthood, an organisation that operates abortion clinics across the country.

“This court concludes that the act is unconstitutional because it poses an undue burden on a woman’s ability to choose a second-trimester abortion; is unconstitutionally vague; and requires a health exception,” said Judge Hamilton’s ruling.

The law was implemented to ban an abortion method that is usually used in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy but can be used as early as the 12th to 15th weeks.

The method is defined by law as “partial-birth abortion”, in which the foetus is taken outside the mother’s body before being killed.

Mr Bush and the US Justice Department had described partial-birth abortions as inhumane and medically unjustified.

The White House said Mr Bush “strongly disagrees with today’s California court ruling, which overturns the overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress that voted to pass this important legislation,” and has promised an appeal.

How opponents of the ban on the method argue that it does not allow exemptions for a woman’s health, a caveat cited by former US President Bill Clinton, who twice rejected similar legislation.

Abortion is one of the most politically and socially divisive issues in the US, frequently splitting the country along party and religious lines.

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