by Steven Ertelt
May 24, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Recognizing the importance of the decision, several more pro-life groups have filed briefs in the Supreme Court case concerning partial-birth abortions. They were joined by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and four other church groups.
The Bioethics Defense Fund legal team filed a brief urging the high court to uphold the ban. The pro-life law firm is also representing distinguished OBGYN and researcher John Thorp of the University of North Carolina and Matercare International, a pro-life doctors group.
BDF’s brief focused on the medical dangers to women’s health, saying that not only is a health exception unnecessary but the abortion procedure is dangerous for women.
The conservative judicial watchdog group Judicial Watch also filed an amicus brief in the case.
The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act is constitutional because Congress drafted it within this the Supreme Court’s liberty interest jurisprudence, the brief says. The ban takes into consideration the liberty interests of both the woman and the partially born baby and
properly balances them, the group said.
The USCCB and the church groups argued that the court’s decision in the Nebraska partial-birth abortion ban case wasn’t applicable in this one. It said the Nebraska ban covered abortions where the baby is killed while still mostly in the birth canal.
"The federal ban protects the life of an unborn child that is substantially outside his or her mother’s body at specified anatomical points" the USCCB brief said.
"Killing a child substantially outside his or her mother’s body is not protected under this court’s abortion jurisprudence," said the brief.
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod joined the USCCB in its brief.
Meanwhile, two pro-life law firms, the Alliance Defense Fund and the Christian Legal Society, also filed friend of the court briefs.
"There’s nothing in the Constitution that allows a person to end a life simply because he thinks that life is less valuable than his own," said CLS Chief Litigation Counsel Steven H. Aden. "That’s exactly what’s happening when an abortionist ends a baby’s life just seconds before the baby takes her first breath."
The Supreme Court rejected the Nebraska ban on the grisly abortion procedure on a narrow 5-4 ruling. It said the ban was unconstitutional because it lacked a health exception — even though the three-day long abortion procedure is never necessary to protect a woman’s health.
After Congress approved the federal version of the ban, abortion businesses and practitioners took it to court in three separate cases.
The various briefs ask the high court to reverse a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit which declared the ban unconstitutional. Two other appeals courts declared it unconstitutional as well because of the health exception issue.
The appeals court cited the Nebraska ruling in its decision, but Congress inserted an extensive findings section explaining that the 2000 ruling was wrong because health exceptions are unnecessary.
Oral arguments are expected in the case during the next term of the Supreme Court, which begins in October, but no specific date has been set.
The outcome of the case will likely be determined by the Supreme Court’s two new justices.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who is expected to vote to uphold the ban, replaced former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who voted for the Nebraska ban in 2000.
Justice Samuel Alito is also expected to uphold the ban and he replaced retiring pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the deciding vote and the justice who wrote the opinion in the Nebraska case. Alito’s vote would swing the court 5-4 in favor of upholding the partial-birth abortion ban.
The case is Gonzales v. Carhart, No. 05-380.