States Could Seek More Abortion Limits Thanks to Supreme Court’s Decision

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 19, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

States Could Seek More Abortion Limits Thanks to Supreme Court’s Decision Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 19
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — One of the benefits of the Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday upholding the national partial-birth abortion ban is that it could assist state legislative efforts to reduce abortions. The ruling also touched on the rights of states to limit abortions but also contained an important legal ramification.

Writing for the 5-4 majority in the case, Justice Anthony Kennedy affirmed that "The government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life."

"The government may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman," he wrote in the ruling.

"The court has given state and federal legislatures wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty,” Kennedy added.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council also commented on the important legal outcomes resulting from the decision.

"The opinion also seems to indicate that the Court is rethinking the way in which challenges are brought by the abortion lobby to every statute affecting abortions," he told

"For years, the abortion lobby has been able to stop almost all legislation by ‘facial challenges,’" he explained. "Now, perhaps, they will have to prove their case in court, as everyone else has to do."

Nikolas Nikas, the Bioethics Defense Fund president and general counsel who has been involved in state legislative work for many years, told about some of the legal aspects of the court’s decision.

He agreed with Perkins that the ruling seems to "signal the Supreme Court’s rejection of unsupported and speculative facial challenges consistently brought by the abortion industry to strike down reasonable abortion regulations."

That could be good news for state legislation that sometimes runs into roadblocks at the local and appeals court level as attorneys defending the laws now have another strong case to cite to defend them.

The decision worries abortion advocates, and the Feminist Majority Foundation said the ruling "is an open invitation for state legislatures and the U.S. Congress to further restrict abortion."

Planned Parenthood agreed and told its members in a fundraising email that "anti-choice legislators are tripping over themselves to take advantage of the court’s" decision.

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee says some state legislatures may look at enacting better informed consent laws that provide women with information about abortion’s risks and alternatives.

He said it could also pave the way for more laws designed to inform women of the development of their unborn child, such as statutes that allow women to seen an ultrasound before having an abortion.

Looking at the practical effects, Right to Life of Michigan president Barbara Listing told that the ruling could aid its efforts to approve a partial-birth abortion ban there.

This decision will likely affect how the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on Michigan’s Legal Birth Definition Act, Listing explained.

The Legal Birth Definition Act was designed to end the practice of partial-birth abortion by defining legal birth and the commencement of legal rights as the time when any portion of the child has been removed from the mother.

It was originally vetoed by Governor Jennifer Granholm but passed after pro-life citizens collected more than 400,000 signatures to override Governor Granholm’s veto.

"The people of Michigan have also spoken in a resounding voice on partial birth abortions," she said. "Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court was willing to take up this issue and decide there is no constitutional right to end the life of a child partially born."