Appeals Panel Once More Strikes Down Va. Abortion Ban

A federal appeals court says Virginia's law banning a type of late-term abortion is still unconstitutional, even though a similar federal ban has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 2-1 decision Tuesday by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the same court's 2005 ruling striking down the law. The Supreme Court had ordered the appeals court to take another look at the law after the ruling on the federal ban.

The appeals court cited a key difference between the federal and state bans on a procedure that abortion opponents call "partial-birth abortion." The federal law protects doctors who set out to perform a legal abortion that by accident becomes the banned procedure. The Virginia law provides no such protection.