Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act Law and Legal Definition

The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (“Act”) is a U.S. federal legislation enacted in 2003 to prohibit late-term abortions. The Act refers to a late-term abortion as a partial-birth abortion. The provisions relating to the Act are codified at 18 USCS § 1531.

According to the Act, ‘partial-birth abortion’ means an abortion in which the person performing the abortion: a) deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus; and b) performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus. [18 USCS § 1531(b)].

Pursuant to the Act, any physician who, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, knowingly performs a partial-birth abortion and thereby kills a human fetus shall be fined or imprisoned for a period not more than 2 years, or both. However, this provision does not apply to a partial-birth abortion that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself. [18 USCS § 1531(a)].

The constitutionality of the Act was upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124.