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The legal case of Gonzales, Attorney General v. Carhart et al. dealt with the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which prohibits a specific method of ending fetal life known as "partial-birth abortion." The Act was based on a variant of the Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) procedure, known as intact D&E, which involves removing the fetus whole or substantially whole. The Court found that the Act should be upheld as "partial-birth abortion" is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited. The District Court erred in granting a permanent injunction that prohibited the Attorney General from enforcing the Act in all cases but those in which there was no dispute the fetus was viable. The Act only prohibits the intact D&E procedure, not the D&E procedure in which the fetus is removed in parts, and its intent requirements limit its reach to those physicians who carry out the intact D&E after intending to undertake both steps at the outset. The Act does not impose an undue burden on second-trimester abortions.
The legal case concerns the constitutionality of a ban on partial-birth abortions, which the Court upholds as valid because it distinguishes between abortion and infanticide, and the state has a legitimate interest in promoting respect for human life. The legal case also concerns a ban on a specific abortion procedure, which the Court upholds as not imposing an undue burden on a woman's right to abortion because safe alternatives are available. However, abortion regulations must include a health exception if there is substantial medical authority supporting the proposition that banning a particular procedure could endanger women's health. The legal case also concerns a nationwide ban on intact D&E, which the Court upheld without exception for a woman's health, despite evidence to the contrary and previous precedent. The dissenting opinion argues that the decision endangers women's health, puts doctors at risk of criminal prosecution, and undermines constitutional rights.
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