Rx for Survival

Politics & Global Health

Health Spending and the Courts

In rare instances, the judiciary branch may step into the health budget process. This occurs primarily when legislation touches the areas of reproduction or death and dying, in which the court determines people's rights. A federal court, for example, struck down a law passed by Congress in 2003 that banned what is known as "partial-birth abortion." The court stated that the ban was unconstitutional because it did not include an exception for the health of the mother. The court also determined that none of the witnesses who testified at the relevant hearings on the bill were qualified as experts, and that Congress had failed to build an impartial hearing record.