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Abortion law faces test

The week's news at a glance.

Washington, D.C.

Supreme Court justices this week sharply questioned lawyers on both sides, as the court considered the constitutionality of a congressional ban on so-called partial-birth abortion. A coalition of reproductive-rights groups is challenging a 2003 law that bans the procedure, in which the fetus is extracted from the womb. During oral arguments, a lawyer for the Bush administration, which supports the ban, called the procedure “gruesome,” and said it is never medically necessary. But a lawyer for the pro-choice side cited medical literature suggesting the procedure can be necessary to protect the health of the mother, and argued that the ban interferes with the right to an abortion. Court watchers say that with two new anti-abortion justices on the Court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito, the case could prove to be a major test of the Court’s view of the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights case.

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