Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Abortion and US Supreme Court again

The US Supreme Court Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide whether a 2003 federal ban on the procedure that critics call "partial birth" abortion is constitutional, setting the stage for its most significant ruling on abortion rights in almost 15 years. The issue: whether the constitutional right to have an abortion means that any law regulating this procedure must contain an exception to protect a woman's health.

In 2000, in the case of Stenberg vs Carhart, the Supremes struck down a Nebraska ban on this procedure, in a 5 to 4 ruling that it was so vaguely written that it could also criminalize other procedures, and that it lacked an exception for the woman's health.

The federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 banned the procedure except when necessary to save the life of the woman, deliberately omitting an exception to protect the woman's health. The law formally declared that such an abortion could never be necessary to preserve health.

Food for thought: Is this 2003 Act by Congress an attempt to practice medicine like they did in the Terri Schiavo case?

1 comment:

davegkugler said...

This is a hot issue; with the replacement of two justices (one of whom protected such a choice) this has the makings of a major political battle. From what I have read in the news it seems the majority of Americans still want abortion to be legal, albeit uncommon; though it seems a very dangerous time for women's rights.

In general, I feel that whenever legal rulings encroach on a physician’s ability to protect the health of his or her patient they have overstepped their bound. Such rulings are beyond the expertise of the court, and can obviously have unplanned and serious implications. Specifically omitting the exception to protect a woman's health, as you reference, is outrageous.

In my own toiling with the ethics of abortion I have come to the conclusion that at some level additional definitions of rights must be defined. I do not feel that there can be equal rights between a woman and her fetus. It is illogical, and problematic. By presuming equal rights you immediately take rights away from the woman – how is this equal? Either the fetus has rights over the woman, or the woman has rights over her fetus.