Abortion Testimony Continues

A doctor testified Tuesday that he would risk going to jail rather than obey a federal ban on abortion that is being challenged as unconstitutional.

"I'd probably continue" performing abortions, said Dr. William Fitzhugh of Richmond, Virginia during a trial in U.S. District Court in Lincoln. "I'd have to take my chances."

The legislation signed into law by President Bush last year, bars the procedure that medical organizations refer to as "intact dilation and extraction" or D&X.

The law has not been enforced because judges in three cities agreed to hear evidence before deciding whether it violates the Constitution. Other trials are being held in New York and San Francisco.

Fitzhugh and others say the ban is written vaguely and could be applied to other types of abortions.

"Enforcement of the act would limit my ability to care for those women," he said.

The federal law prohibits doctors from committing an "overt act" designed to kill a partially delivered fetus.

The federal act carries a maximum two-year prison term for doctors convicted of performing the procedure. The issue is expected to reach the Supreme Court.

Anthony Coppolino, who is presenting the U.S. Justice Department's case, stressed Monday that Congress used expert witnesses in formulating the law.

"There are no material health conditions that require this procedure. They had before them experts in the field," Coppolino told the judge.


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