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Stenberg v. Carhart

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Constitutional Law Keyed to Stone

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 530 U.S. 914, 120 S. Ct. 2597, 147 L. Ed. 2d 743, 2000 U.S. 4484.

Brief Fact Summary. A Nebraska law provided that no partial birth abortion shall be performed in the state, unless such procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother. The constitutionality of the Nebraska law was brought into question.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A State may not regulate abortions in such a way that disregards the risk of injury to health of a woman.


Facts. A Nebraska law provided that no partial birth abortion shall be performed in the state, unless such procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother. The statute defined a partial birth abortion as a procedure in which a person “partially delivers vaginally a living unborn child before killing the unborn child and completing the delivery.” It further defines the procedure as intentionally delivering into the vagina a living unborn child, or a substantial portion thereof, for the purpose of performing a procedure that will result in the death of the unborn child. There were two common ways of performing a partial birth abortion: (1) the Dilation and Evacuation Method (D&E), which entails terminating the life of the fetus while the fetus remains in the body; and (2) the Dilation and Extraction Method (D&X), requiring the doctor to initiate a woman’s natural delivery process and to terminate the fetus’ life after its arms and legs have been brought outside of a woman’s body.
The D&E is regarded, generally, as the safer method. The State asserted that its intention was to ban just the D&X. The constitutionality of the Nebraska law was brought into question.

Issue. Did the Nebraska statute, banning the performance of a “partial birth abortion,” violate the United States Constitution?
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