COLUMBUS, December 17, 2003 ( – In a ruling with possible national significance, Ohio’s law restricting the brutal practice of partial-birth abortion was upheld today by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Most partial-birth abortions are performed in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy.  The Ohio statute generally bans killing a live child who has been delivered outside the body of the mother at least past the baby’s navel (if he or she is being delivered feet first), or whose entire head has been delivered outside the body of the mother (if he or she is delivered head first).  However, there is an exception to the ban “to preserve the life or health of the mother as a result of the mother’s life or health being endangered by a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”  The law was challenged by Ohio abortionist Martin Haskell, whose 1992 instructional paper on how to perform this method of abortion touched off the national debate over partial-birth abortion.  Today, in Women’s Medical Professional Corporation v. Taft, a three-judge federal panel upheld the law.  By a vote of 2-to-1, the panel rejected the arguments of abortion advocates that the Constitution requires that partial-birth abortions must be allowed when the health risk to the mother is only negligible or transient.  James Bopp, Jr., General Counsel for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), commented, “The court rejected—as most Americans reject—the outrageous claim by pro-abortion advocates that the Constitution guarantees a right to kill a child who is hanging halfway outside the mother’s body for negligible and transient health reasons.”  In Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), a five-justice majority on the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Nebraska ban on partial-birth abortion because the five justices said that a “health” exception was necessary, and because the five justices felt the language of the Nebraska law might cover other abortion methods involving dismemberment of the unborn child.  The Sixth Circuit panel ruled that the Ohio law clearly applied only to the partial-birth abortion method.  Extensive documentation on the issue of partial-birth abortion is posted on the NRLC website at