Thursday, April 19, 2007

Supreme Court Gets One Right

The Supreme Court ruled this week on a Federal law prohibiting partial birth abortions. The Supreme Court’s role in our government is to decide if a law written by the Congress, and signed into law by the President, violated the U. S. Constitution. It was not asked to decide if this was a bad or a good law, but was it a Constitutional law. In this case, the Supreme Court decided that the law was Constitutional.

The procedure at the heart of the law is either called “partial birth abortion” or a “dilation and extraction procedure” depending on your point of view in the debate on abortion. Most estimates claim this particular procedure, regardless of the name, is performed on anywhere from 2,200 to 5,000 patients a year. This is out of an approximate 1 million abortions performed a year. The procedure involves partially removing the unborn child from the woman’s uterus (hence the “partial birth” descriptor) and then killing the baby. Depending on the account, the child’s skull is either cut or crushed.

Many abortion rights advocates argue that this is a bad decision because it doesn’t allow for cases where the mother’s life is in danger. This is not accurate. The law allows for the procedure if the mother’s life is in danger, but not her “health”. The subtle difference is that abortions are currently performed with the argument that the mother’s mental well being could be at stake. This is a very nebulous issue that is hard to validate. Allowing the procedure if the mother’s actual life is in danger is much more straight forward, easier to validate, and gives very clear guidance to doctors. Many places aren’t reporting that this is still allowed under the federal law.

Regardless of if you agree with this procedure or not, the Supreme Court made the correct decision. This is a question for the voters and their representatives to decide on, and not the Supreme Court. The Court has decided the law is Constitutional, and that should be the only role for the Court in this case. If you disagree with this law, contact your local representative and work to have the law changed.

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