Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oh, hell.

Gonzales v. Carhart

In its tireless efforts to show profound respect for fetal life, the Supreme Court today upheld the Federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, in which Congress exercised its powers under the Commerce Clause (?) to prohibit intact D&E abortion, without an exception to preserve the health of the apparently irrelevant pregnant woman, and regardless of whether the fetus to be aborted is "viable" or not. The Court hardly even pretends to leave standing its prior fragile protection for reproductive freedom. The whole opinion, by Justice Kennedy, is a chilling exercise in Orwellian newspeak; a mild example: "The law need not give abortion doctors unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice, nor should it elevate their status above other physicians in the medical community" (emphasis mine).
The Court holds that intact D&E can be prohibited with no exception to protect the pregnant woman's health because other methods of second trimester abortion remain available, despite the fact that these methods are all acknowledged to be more dangerous to pregnant women than intact D&E. Moreover, the Court takes great pains to make clear that the primary alternative method, "regular D&E" is far grislier to the lay person than the method banned: "For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix and out of the woman. . . . The doctor examines the different parts to ensure the entire fetal body has been removed." Yet the supposedly unimpaired availability of regular D&E is used throughout the opinion to prove that Congress imposes no undue burden on the right to abortion when it "expresses respect for the dignity of human life" by banning intact D&E. Nothing in the Court's opinion gives any reason to think that regular D&E or any other method of second trimester abortion will last longer than it takes a state legislature to ban it.
The only person in a position to decide whether to bear a child is the woman who would be the child's mother. Legislation restricting abortion denigrates women's moral judgment, endangers and controls their bodies, and implies a wholly irrational and unsubstantiated faith in the wisdom of state and national legislatures.

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