Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Supreme Sophistry

Today, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Federal law banning partial-birth (i.e., late term) abortions. The case is Gonzalez v. Carhart, et al. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court, in what I perceive as a prelude to the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade, confirmed the Constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (the "Act"). Although the Act contains an exception allowing the procedure to be performed where there is a threat to a woman's life, no such exception exists with respect to a woman's health. In essence, doctors throughout the nation now face criminal fines and imprisonment if they attempt to perform the procedure even if their patient was raped and has severe health problems resulting from the unilaterally imposed pregnancy after the first trimester.

I am appalled as both a man and an attorney. I am appalled not because late term abortion is a good thing (it is not), but because the value of women in our society has been cheapened significantly by the Court's decision which, as the dissent states, "tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)." I am appalled because the Court has departed from over thirty years of precedent which, in virtually all cases, consistently required that laws regulating abortion safeguard a woman's health at any stage of pregnancy. I am appalled because according to the Court's fallacious reasoning, a woman seeking judicial permission for the procedure would have to make an "as-applied claim," the final determination of which is likely to come (after the exhaustion of all appeals) well-after the birth or the death of the woman due to health complications arising from the pregnancy in the first instance ... take your pick. Now, there's some REAL rational thought from the powers that be, eh?

With this decision, a particular health decision for a woman is now to be made by politicians rather than her physician. If men were the ones who became pregnant, I'm fairly certain that a law like the one at bar either never would have been proposed or, if it had, never would have gotten out of committee. Supreme sophistry, indeed!

No comments: