Prolife groups had predicted it: the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is now almost completely unenforceable. Two judges, one in New York and another in San Francisco, ordered temporary injunctions only hours after President Bush signed it into law. The injunction will last until November 21, when lawyers will argue whether it should be extended.

The New York suit was filed before the law was even signed on behalf of the National Abortion Federation, which has clinics in almost every state. The Federation says it performs almost half of all abortions nationwide, has 350 clinics in 47 states, and treats about 700,000 women every year.

The San Francisco ruling, the third against the ban since Wednesday, "affects doctors at 900 Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide," reported the Los Angles Times. "Added to the New York decision, it will protect a majority of all abortion providers in the United States, activists said."

The arguments are the same that abortion-rights groups have been making all along: there is no exception for the health of the mother, the language is too broad, and may apply to other abortion procedures. Also, New York judge Richard Conway Casey "wrote in a three-page order that the network had proved that it would suffer irreparable harm without an order blocking enforcement of the new law," according to The New York Times.

Of course, before the ban was law, abortion-rights groups argued that the procedure was extremely rare. "The two sides of the debate differ about the frequency of such procedures," says the Los Angles Times. "The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, estimated about 2,200 dilation-and-extraction abortions were performed in 2,000, up from 363 in 1996." ...

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