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Gonzales v. Carhart
Court: United States Court of Appeals
Case Date: 09/22/2014
Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007), is a United States Supreme Court case that upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.[1] The case reached the high court after U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appealed a ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in favor of LeRoy Carhart that struck down the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Also before the Supreme Court was the consolidated appeal of Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which had struck down the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. The Supreme Court's decision upheld Congress's ban and held that it did not impose an undue burden on the due process right of women to obtain an abortion, "under precedents we here assume to be controlling,"[2] such as the Court's prior decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In a legal sense, the case distinguished but did not overrule Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), in which the Court dealt with related issues. However, Gonzales was widely interpreted as signaling a shift in Supreme Court jurisprudence toward a restriction of abortion rights, occasioned in part by the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor and her replacement by Samuel Alito.[3][4][5] An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine identified the case as a landmark: "This is the first time the Court has ever held that physicians can be prohibited from using a medical procedure deemed necessary by the physician to benefit the patient's health."[5]

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