Supreme Court Holds Hearings on National Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 8, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Supreme Court Holds Hearings on National Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 8
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The Supreme Court held hearings on Wednesday on the federal partial-birth abortion ban that would prohibit the gruesome abortion procedure across the country. As expected, the high court grappled with the question of whether the three-day-long abortion procedure is ever medically necessary.

Despite the claims, abortion advocates could not tell the high court how often a partial-birth abortion may be needed to protect a mother’s health.

"We have no evidence in the record" as to how often such a situation arises? Chief Justice John Roberts asked, according to an AP report.

"No, your honor," pro-abortion attorney Priscilla Smith responded.

Solicitor General Paul Clement told the court that "Partial-birth abortions are never medically necessary, pose health risks, and should be banned."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has previously voted to reject a ban on partial-birth abortions, asked Solicitor General Paul Clement whether the partial-birth abortion ban would also prohibit other abortion procedures as well.

"I don’t think so, Justice Ginsburg," Clement replied and said that it was different than a type of abrotion procedure the Supreme Court addressed in the Danforth case.

He said the big difference between partial-birth abortions and other abortion procedures is that the baby is killed partially outside the mother’s womb in partial-birth abortions while the child is destoyed inside the womb in other procedures.

"I just don’t think the record supports" that notion, Clement added when Ginsburg asked him if the partial-birth abortion procedure was too close to another one and that the ban could wind up prohibiting both.

Justice Samuel Alito replaced former Justice Sanda Day O’Connor, who was the deciding vote in the Supreme Court’s decision in 2000 that struck down a Nebraska ban on partial-birth abortions because it lacked a health exception.

Alito, who is expected to be more receptive, sat silently during the two hour hearing and did not ask any questions of either side.

Only eight of the nine justices participated in the hearings and Chief Justice John Roberts told those attending that Justice Clarence Thomas was ill and unable to attend.

Assuming new Roberts and Alito side with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court has a 5-4 majority in favor of Roe and keeping abortion legal. However, the decision on the partial-birth abortion may be different.

That’s because Justice Anthony Kennedy, sides with the pro-abortion bloc of judges on abortion in general, ruled with the minority in 2000 to uphold the Nebraska ban. Both sides admit that Kennedy’s decision in the case will determine whether the law is upheld.

President Bush signed the national partial-birth abortion ban into law in 2003 and abortion advocates took it to court in three separate lawsuits and federal courts in each case relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in 2000 and declared the ban unconstitutional.

In July, the Eighth Circuit upheld the decision issued by the district court in Nebraska; then in February, the Second Circuit and the Ninth Circuit upheld the decisions of their respective district courts.

The U. S. Supreme Court has agreed to review President Bush’s appeal of the Eighth Circuit decision, Carhart v. Gonzales; and the Ninth Circuit case, Planned Parenthood v. Gonzales.

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