Magisterial Fidelity
A Roman Catholic Mom from Boston

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Carol M. McKinley

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 :::

Here we go!...

Supreme Court takes on late-term abortion issue


WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider the
constitutionality of banning a type of late-term abortion, teeing up a
contentious issue for a new-look court already in a state of flux over
privacy rights.

The Bush administration has pressed the high court to reinstate the
federal law, passed in 2003 but never put in effect because it was
struck down by judges in California, Nebraska and New York.

The outcome will likely rest with the two men that President Bush has
recently installed on the court. Justices had been split 5-4 in 2000
in striking down a state law, barring what critics call partial birth
abortion because it lacked an exception to protect the health of the

But Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was the tie-breaking vote,
retired late last month and was replaced by Samuel Alito. Abortion had
been a major focus in the fight over Alito's nomination because
justices serve for life and he will surely help shape the court on
abortion and other issues for the next generation.

Alito, in his rulings on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Philadelphia, has been more willing than O'Connor, the first woman
justice, to allow restrictions on abortions, which were legalized in
the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act prohibits a certain type of
abortion, generally carried out in the second or third trimester, in
which a fetus is partially removed from the womb, and the skull is
punctured or crushed.

Justices on a 9-0 vote in a New Hampshire case reaffirmed in January
that states can require parental involvement in abortion decisions and
that state restrictions must have an exception to protect the mother's

The federal law in the current case has no health exception, but
defenders maintain that the procedure is never medically necessary to
protect a woman's health.

Even with O'Connor's retirement, there are five votes to uphold Roe,
the landmark ruling that established a woman's right to an abortion.

Alito's views ``are not going to change the outcome of the central
principle of Roe v. Wade,'' said John Garvey, the dean at Boston
College Law School. ``In some ways, these are tokens or markers in ...
a symbolic tug of war.''

Bush has called the so-called partial birth abortion an ``abhorrent
practice,'' and his Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Paul
Clement, had urged justices not to delay taking up the
administration's appeal.

The case that will be heard this fall comes to the Supreme Court from
Nebraska, where the federal law was challenged on behalf of
physicians. Doctors who perform the procedure contend that it is the
safest method of abortion when the mother's health is threatened by
heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer.

A judge in Lincoln, Neb., ruled the law was unconstitutional, and the
8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis agreed last summer,
prompting the Supreme Court appeal. Federal judges in New York and San
Francisco also declared the law unconstitutional and appeals courts

``Every court considering this ban has found that it lacks the
necessary protections for women's health,'' said Vicki Saporta,
president of the National Abortion Federation.

Fifteen states urged justices to review the case: Alabama, Arkansas,
Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

The case was one of four that justices agreed to hear on Tuesday,
Alito's first day on the bench. The others involve more routine
issues: patents, prison sentences, and lawsuits over pay phone

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the conservative American Center for
Law and Justice, said the court's announcement was ``an incredibly
important decision that puts the issue of partial-birth abortion front and center.''

The case is Gonzales v. Carhart, 05-380.


::: posted by prolife pundits at 8:53 PM




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