Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Supreme Court Upholds Late-Term Abortion Ban

I can't say that I am at all surprised by this decision. After all, this is precisely why Bush and Co. have been trying to stack the judiciary with folks like Robert and Alito. Moreover, I was out there protesting Roberts during his hearings because I knew, despite what well-meaning folks tried to tell me, he was no moderate.

Of course, my sentiments are best expressed by Ruth Ginsburg:

'Today's decision is alarming,'' Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in dissent. She said the ruling ''refuses to take ... seriously'' previous Supreme Court decisions on abortion.

Ginsburg said the latest decision ''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.''

The most troubling part of this ban is that it will undoubtedly result in the death of women, whose lives are no longer as important as the fetus they are carrying.

I think that what troubles me even more about this decision is drive to "draw a bright line between abortion and infanticide." The sentiment here is that ethical question, particularly difficult and troubling ethical questions, can be easily resolved by "drawing a bright line." It astounds me that the administration even thinks this is possible, especially since we can rarely do this in scientific knowledge. Where to you draw a bright line between some species? When do you draw a bright line between clinical depression and grief? These are hard questions, and the scientists often recognize that such bright lines do not exist.

What hubris of this administration (and the SCOTUS majority) to think they alone have the ability to draw such bright ethical lines on matters that are inherently fuzzy and hence why they lead to such impassioned ethical debates. Ethical deliberation is not intended to answer "easy" questions, it's intended for the very difficult questions, such as a pregnant woman having to consider a late-term abortion to protect her own life.

The opponents of the act ''have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases,'' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that it is true that most women will not die or suffer significant health consequences if they are denied a late-term abortion. What bugs me is that his own reasoning assumes that there is a small (tiny?) fraction of women who will die or be harmed. I cannot believe it is acceptable to these men (Ginsburg dissented) that any woman would die based on their decision today.

UPDATE: See Ann's post at feministing for more analysis of Ginsburg's dissenting opinion.

UPDATE UPDATE: It occurs to me the hypocrisy of the "pro-life" mindset expressed in this opinion. I wonder how they would consider a law that outlawed all guns?