Eighth Circuit Declines Review of Nebraska Abortion Law Enforcement

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By Dyanna Quizon, Esq. on December 21, 2011 3:02 PM

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to review a lower court's decision to block enforcement of Nebraska's controversial 2010 abortion law on Friday.

The law added pre-abortion screening and counseling requirements and established a cause of action for a woman for the wrongful death of her unborn child.

In its 2010 ruling, a U.S. District Court held that the law created a profound chilling effect on doctors' willingness to perform abortions and created substantial obstacles to a woman's right to choose abortion.

The court found that “the purpose of the bill appears to be the preservation of unborn human life through the creation of substantial, likely insurmountable, obstacles in the path of women seeking abortions in Nebraska.” The court then declared the law unconstitutional and permanently enjoined its enforcement.

Nebraskans United for Life appealed the decision to the Eighth Circuit, which subsequently upheld the lower court’s ruling.

In affirming the district court, the Eighth Circuit held that it considered all of the proper factors in deciding that NuLife failed to intervene in a timely manner. These included: whether the litigation was terminated procedurally, if NuLife justified its delay in light of its prior knowledge of the case, and if the parties would be prejudiced because final judgment on their settlement had been entered.

The Eighth Circuit has recently reviewed another state’s informed consent law, upholding most of South Dakota’s changes to its law. However, it recently decided to hold an en banc hearing of its decision to strike one of its provisions.

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