Supreme Court Upholds Partial-Birth Abortion Ban on 5-4 Decision

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 18, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Supreme Court Upholds Partial-Birth Abortion Ban on 5-4 Decision Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 18
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — The Supreme Court has reversed a decision it handed down in 2000 and upheld a Congressional ban on the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure. The ruling indicated that the federal ban on the abortion procedure did not violate the so-called right to abortion established under Roe v. Wade.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court and indicated that the abortion advocates who sued to overturn the ban "have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases."

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.

Saying the "decision is alarming," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented in the case and said the court should have followed its previous decision on the controversial abortions.

Justices Stephen Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens joined her in the dissent.

The ruling is the first major abortion case in which new Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito have ruled, perhaps giving a clue as to their views on Roe itself.

As they did on the partial-birth abortion decision today, pro-life advocates hope the pair will join Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas and a fifth justice in the future who would form a five-judge group giving it the majority on the high court for the first time since the landmark 1973 case.

A fifth judge is needed because Justice Kennedy supports Roe despite his joining the majority in the partial-birth abortion case.

The high court previously invalidated a Nebraska partial-birth abortion ban in 2000 in the Carhart case, which caused other state bans to be unconstitutional.

The decision in the partial-birth abortion case could spark renewed efforts to get state partial-birth abortion bans back on the books or prompt pro-life groups to target other abortion procedures that are used in the middle or later parts of pregnancy.

Applauding the decision, Priests for Life director Father Frank Pavone said, "The United States Congress, and the vast majority of state legislators and American citizens, have made it clear over the last decade that this procedure – by which a child is killed in the very process of delivery – has no place in a civilized society."

”We are grateful to all who worked so hard to pass this law and to educate the public about this unspeakably violent procedure," he added.

Much of the debate revolved around whether a partial-birth abortion is ever medically necessary.

Dr. Anthony Levatino, a Las Cruces, New Mexico OBGYN who formerly did abortions in New York, says a partial-birth abortion is a three day long process and would never be a medical procedure a doctor would need to use to protect a woman’s health.

"The way you end a pregnancy to save a woman’s life is to deliver the (baby)," Levatino said. "If you wait three days to do a partial birth abortion, she’s going to end up in the morgue."

Levatino said the health exception abortion advocates want is a "legal tactic" that has no basis in medical fact.

The cases are Gonzales v. Carhart, 05-380, and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, 05-1382.