U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review in 9th Circuit Case Dealing with 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’

SAN FRANCISCO (June 19, 2006) — 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 Parenthood clinics.

The Ninth Circuit case is Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood (05-1382). The Eighth Circuit case is Gonzales v. Carhart (05-380).