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Supreme Court upholds fed abortion ban

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ban on a specific procedure, commonly referred to as “partial birth” abortions.

Regardless of how you personally feel about this controversial medical procedure, banned with the passage of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act by Congress (and signed by Bush) in 2003, there is no doubt that this ruling chips away at the ability of a woman to decide, along with her doctor and family, about a very personal medical issue.

The 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

The law is constitutional despite not containing an exception that would allow the procedure if needed to preserve a woman’s health, Kennedy said. “The law need not give abortion doctors unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice,” he wrote in the majority opinion.

On the other side of the fence, the only woman on the court knows exactly how significant this ruling is.

“Today’s decision is alarming,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in dissent. She said the ruling “refuses to take … seriously” previous Supreme Court decisions on abortion.

Ginsburg said the latest decision “tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”

Ginsburg said that for the first time since the court established a woman’s right to an abortion in 1973, “the court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman’s health.”

This is a terribly difficult issue, since it’s hard to find anything positive to say, IMHO, about this practice, and many would find it morally wrong. But medically, it may be necessary in some rare cases.  Shakes Sis:

If there were ever any question about whether the movement behind this ban is “pro-life” or really just “anti-woman,” consider that carrying a terminally ill fetus to term increases a woman’s chances of placental abruption and uterine rupture; if she can even become pregnant again, future pregnancies carry greater risks for both her and the fetus. (And that’s to say nothing of her psychological well-being.)

This is the Bush Supreme Court in action; if John Paul Stevens kicks it, folks — he voted with Ginsburg — this is just the beginning of womb control efforts, and involvement of the state in your doctor’s office and in your bedroom.

Holly has a post with a lot of hot comments at The Moderate Voice.

Reactions from some presidential candidates are after the flip.The Hill:

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who in the past has supported a woman’s right to a form of late-term abortion, Wednesday joined in the chorus of Republican presidential candidates hailing the Supreme Court decision upholding the ban of the procedure.

“The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion,” Giuliani said in a statement on the 5-4 decision. “I agree with it.”

…”I strongly disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling, which dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women,” Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said. “As Justice Ginsburg emphasized in her dissenting opinion, this ruling signals an alarming willingness on the part of the conservative majority to disregard its prior rulings respecting a woman’s medical concerns and the very personal decisions between a doctor and patient.”

Former North Carolina senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards also said he strongly disagrees with the “hard right turn” by the Supreme Court, adding that the move serves as a “stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding