WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a state law banning the so-called ``partial-birth abortion'' _ a decision sure to escalate the nationwide legal, political and moral war over abortion.

By a 5-4 vote, the justices said the Nebraska law violates women's constitutional right by imposing an ``undue burden'' on their decisions to end their pregnancies.

The ruling, the court's most important word on abortion in eight years, did not appear to immediately affect similar laws in 29 other states. But their supporters are likely to have a harder time defending them in lower courts.