updated 9/28/2004 3:48:39 PM ET 2004-09-28T19:48:39

The Justice Department said Tuesday that it will appeal a Nebraska judge’s ruling striking down the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf declared the ban unconstitutional Sept. 8, saying it interferes with the right to an abortion and fails to allow exceptions when a woman’s health is in danger.

The Justice Department said it will challenge ruling on both counts before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The law, signed by President Bush last year, bans a procedure that doctors call intact dilation and extraction and critics refer to as partial-birth abortion. The fetus is partially removed from the womb and its skull is punctured or crushed.

The ban has not been enforced because three federal judges agreed to hear constitutional challenges in simultaneous non-jury trials.

Kopf’s ruling followed similar decisions by federal judges in New York and San Francisco. The Justice Department already has filed an appeal of the San Francisco ruling.

The dispute is expected by many legal experts to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

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