Oral argument will be heard at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the case Richmond Medical Center for Women v. Herring.
The Center for Reproductive Rights will be arguing against Virginia ‘s”Partial Birth Infanticide Act,”which would outlaw the most common abortion methods used during the second trimester. Last May, a three-judge panel of the court declared the law unconstitutional. The full appellate court will review that decision at the request of the state attorney general’s office.
Stephanie Toti, a staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, will represent the plaintiffs, Richmond Medical Center for Women and Dr. William G. Fitzhugh, who brought the suit on behalf of themselves, their staffs, and their patients.
In 2007, the Supreme Court ordered the Fourth Circuit to re-evaluate the constitutionality of the Virginia ban after it upheld a federal ban aimed at a particular method of second-trimester abortion. That ruling came in Gonzales v. Carhart, a case brought by the Center. The appellate court struck down the Virginia law, finding that it was substantially broader than the federal law, exposing physicians to the risk of criminal prosecution and imprisonment for using the safest and most common method of second-trimester abortion. Shortly after the 2-1 decision, Virginia asked the full court to rehear the case. Virginia ‘s statute is part of an ongoing campaign by the anti-choice movement to eliminate women’s personal decision-making about whether to have an abortion, and to make doing so even more difficult. In fact, in June 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down Michigan ‘s third attempt at a broad ban on methods of abortion. The court characterized the law as pushing every boundary that the Supreme Court imposed in Gonzales v. Carhart.