Supreme Court Should Say Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Protects Women’s Health

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Supreme Court Should Say Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Protects Women’s Health Email this article
Printer friendly page

by William Beckman
November 20, 2006 Note: William Beckman is the executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee in Chicago.

On November 8th the U.S. Supreme Court held a hearing on the 2003 Federal law banning partial birth abortion (also described as D&X abortion). Lower courts have declared the law unconstitutional because it does not provide an exception for health of the mother.

These rulings are based on the 2000 Supreme Court ruling in Stenberg v. Carhart. That ruling rejected the Nebraska law banning partial birth abortion because it did not provide a health exception.

Abortion supporters consistently claim that the Federal law “would ban abortions as early as 12 to 15 weeks in pregnancy.” They have a strategy behind making that unsupported claim.

They are trying to take the focus off the gruesome partial birth abortion procedure by suggesting that virtually all late-term abortion procedures would be banned. Then they can cite heart-wrenching examples where women’s health was threatened by a pregnancy to support the need for the missing health exception that, if provided, would make a ban meaningless.

Articles in the Chicago Tribune (Nov 6th) and Chicago Sun-Times (Nov 13th) have both made this change in focus by portraying the ban as a threat to women’s health. These articles carry the water for abortion supporters by accepting as fact the premise that the law would ban virtually all late-term abortions, creating this perceived threat.

In contrast, during the November 8th hearing, when Justice Kennedy asked how often the partial-birth abortion procedure was medically needed, the plaintiff’s attorney admitted there are no statistics showing that.

Before passing the 2003 law, Congress held hearings where many doctors testified in favor of the ban. These doctors explained why partial birth abortion was not only unnecessary to address health issues during pregnancy, but in fact, is a dangerous procedure that cannot be medically justified under any circumstances.

Of course, these doctors were focusing on the partial birth abortion procedure in their testimony, not other late-term abortion procedures.

Apparently, the doctors who testified in favor of the ban did not find the wording of the law difficult to understand regarding what abortion procedure it would ban. Many legal experts also reject concerns that this law would ban other abortion procedures.

Since the Federal ban provides even more specifics about the banned procedure than earlier laws, charges that this ban will prevent any form of abortion after 12-15 weeks is not supportable as a valid argument.

The final evidence to dispute this misleading claim will be what really happens when the Supreme Court upholds the partial birth abortion ban. None of the suggested dire results threatening women’s health will occur.