by Maria Vitale
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
March 13, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The issue of partial-birth abortion is returning to the U.S. Supreme Court—but in a different way, according to a senior legal fellow at the Family Research Council.
In a recent piece published in the Wall Street Journal, Cathleen Cleaver Ruse of the Family Research Council wrote that the “most profound difference” between the current partial-birth abortion case and the previous one “is that now there is a genuine trial record.”
Cleaver Ruse added, “Not since Roe v. Wade has so much information about the practice of abortion been available in the public record.”
Much of the information in the case involves “first person” accounts of physicians talking about procedures that would be banned under the law. But “hard evidence” such as medical records sought by the Department of Justice was denied by hospitals.
Last month, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear arguments in the case of Gonzales v. Carhart, the Department of Justice’s appeal to reinstate the federal law which banned partial-birth abortion. Three lower courts have struck down the law because it doesn’t have an exception for the health of the pregnant woman. Health exceptions in abortion bans are considered to be a giant loophole by pro-life activists, since health can be loosely defined.
Previously, the high court struck down a partial-birth abortion ban in the 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart case. Cleaver Ruse notes that appellate courts have struck down the federal ban largely because of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in the Stenberg case, which tossed out a similar Nebraska law for its lack of a health exception. In that case, the court applied a standard that “plaintiffs need only toss about unproven and even improbable hypothetical claims” about the safety of an abortion-related procedure to defeat the law, according to Cleaver Ruse.
Cleaver Ruse concludes in her Wall Street Journal piece that if the high court rules in a similar way this time around, “then all that will have been required to defeat the will of Congress—and by extension, the American people—is for abortion doctors to toe the party line.”
The Supreme Court is likely to issue its decision in December or January.
As Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, has said, “Unless the Supreme Court now reverses the extreme position that five justices took in 2000, partly-born premature infants will continue to die by having their skulls punctured by seven-inch scissors.”
Congress has presented medical evidence which it hopes will show that a health exception is unnecessary in the federal partial-birth abortion ban. An American Medical Association panel could not find any circumstances where partial-birth abortion was the only appropriate alternative for preserving a mother’s health. The panel also concluded that partial-birth abortions could pose health risks for women.
Related web sites:
Family Research Council – https://www.frc.org