My So Called Life - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Embrace life -- both the sweet days and the bitter...embrace the joy and the sadness...the successes and the defeats -- for all of these things, both good and bad, have made you who you are.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Partial Birth Abortions - Yay or Nay?

I am sure everyone has heard the Supreme Court's latest decision. On April 18, 2007 the Supreme Court upheld a law that banned partial birth abortion. I can honestly say that I was a little shocked when I read the headline online. I read it and sort of just paused in my seat at work and did not move. My reaction was not based on an agreement or disagreement with the ruling, but rather I could not remember in recent history when the Supreme Court ever ruled AGAINST the pro choice establishment. Now I am sure that maybe some rulings have come against them, but to my mind this is the most prominent one to ever come down from the "Supremes". It is true though according to AP News that, "For the first time since the court established a woman's right to an abortion in 1973, the justices upheld a nationwide ban on a specific abortion method, labeled partial-birth abortion by its opponents."

I guess now we can truly see the impact that Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito had on the court regarding this particular issue. In April of 2000, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Stenberg vs. Carhart decision, which was handed down in June, 2000. The Court struck down a Nebraska statute which had banned partial-birth abortion. So just 7 years later, the Court reverses itself and upholds a law banning partial birth abortion. Now perhaps the cases are not exactly the same...I am honestly not that sure...but it can clearly be seen how the change coincided with new justices being placed on the court.

I do not know how I truly feel about this particular ruling. I mean...I am torn by the whole abortion issue regardless. I feel that women should have the right to choose, but I personally would be sad if my sister or a member of my family chose to have an abortion. I would respect their decision and would not in any way add any more guilt to the decision. So there rests my dilemma.

I do believe there always needs to be an exception for the health of the mother. But in all honestly, partial birth abortions are the smallest percentage of abortions performed each year. In fact, in the year 2000, there were only 2200 dilation and extraction (partial birth) abortions performed constituting .17% of all abortions. So the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of women who want abortions still have the right, choice, ability, and capacity to obtain the abortion they so desire.

And...maybe...and I stress maybe this is an out of touch idea or thought...but I honestly do not understand what precipitates a late term abortion such as a partial birth abortion anyway. I mean, definitely it is because I am not a woman and have never had anyone go through this personally...but what would take a woman so long to decide NOT to have the child. I am sure there are always going to be the exceptions...the young mother who hides her pregnancy, the poor mother who has no access to early medical care, the mother who feels she has no options at the beginning and feels alone and/or abandoned...but it is still difficult for me...

Again, I am not trying to minimize a woman's right to choose because I do believe in the right to choose. I am just throwing out these thoughts and ideas because I truly do not understand it, and part of developing an understanding comes through asking questions.

But in the end, I must confess that if I had to choose a type of abortion to outlaw, it would be partial birth, simply because the whole procedure is just to horrific for me to think about. The image of a child completely out of the mother's womb except for the head, and then to think about the skull punctured, is just too hard for me to imagine. Even in reading up on articles about the Supreme Court's decision and researching the topic, my heart was saddened when the images and thoughts of partial birth abortion came to mind.

In the I agree with the Supreme Court's decision?: Yes...

It is important to know the following as well - also from AP News:

"While the court upheld the law against a broad attack on its constitutionality, Kennedy said the court could entertain a challenge in which a doctor found it necessary to perform the banned procedure on a patient suffering certain medical complications.

The law allows the procedure to be performed when a woman's life is in jeopardy."


  • At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Jeff said…

    1. "Partial Birth" abortion is a term coined by anti-abortionists. It is NOT a partial birth!

    2. Bush has loaded the court with extreme right wingers; that is why we are in danger of having former rulings overturned.

    3. The court did NOT outlaw "Partial Birth" abortions. It ruled that States may enforce their own anti-abortion laws.

  • At 8:14 PM, Blogger Matthew said…

    First of all if you read up on partial birth abortion and looked at how medical doctors describe and depict the abortion you would see that YES in fact they deliver the baby half way out of the mother's womb...

    Yes if you want to get into semantics it is NOT a birth (b/c the baby is going to be aborted) but the baby is in fact half delivered 1/2 out of the mothers womb.

    And second of all - yes you are correct that by upholding the law the the Supreme Court has allowed the states to decide...I never said the Court outlawed it entirely...i quoted from a newpaper that said that...the law it upheld was for one individual state...

  • At 8:24 PM, Blogger Matthew said…

    Medically speaking partial birth can refer to several techinques, most according to many abortion sites that include "D & X" techniques in the second trimester where the woman's uterus if dilated and fetus partially delivered and skull crushed and evacuated (also known as D & E).

    Now I am not saying I agree either way, it is just a very hard subject when discussing, D&X, D&E, or so called partial birth abortions.

    Thanks for the comment Jeff.

    And I do agree with your comment that the new justices on the court that are more conservative do pose a threat to previous rulings

  • At 9:16 PM, Blogger abnitude said…

    i do agree with you and jeff about the threat of the new justices and this was an example of that situation. the country has become so conserative on issues that were fought for 30 and 40 years ago, i guess there is a cycle to this attitude.
    i, myself, donot think i could decide about a woman making the decision to have an abortion. but i would want her to be able to decide the outcome of her fetus. with deciding late in pregnanc, i have know 2 women in my lifetime that found out they were pregnant in the 9th month. they were overweight and always had irregular periods so they truly didnt know. thats one reason a woman may wait too late to decide about a pregnancy.
    one other issue that ties into this is the idea that the justices are really ruling on morality as are the right wing politicians. the woman having the abortion has to live with that decision and if she can, should anyone connected with a "separation of church and state" government tell her she is wrong? when i vote in an election, i never vote for anyone who has the little fetus next to their name. even if they are someone i want elected, i will not give my vote to a moral judger.
    sorry for the long diatribe matthew.

  • At 9:19 PM, Blogger Matthew said…

    No problem at all - i love comments from all sides and with all perspectives...

    I think another thing that is important to know about so called partial birth abortions is that most of them do occur in the 5 - 6 month range between 20 - 26 weeks or so..

    It is a myth that they usually occur in the 9th month right before the baby is about to be born naturally...

  • At 1:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please understand that this procedure - or the ones that are endangered by this - are used in cases where the mother's health, fertility, or life are endangered. No doctor wants to do this procedure.

    There is a false idea in this country that pregnancy and childbirth are 100% safe. They are NOT. Even the most ardent of midwives insist that a hospital be prepared to take home birthers in case a pregnancy goes wrong - and they can go very wrong very fast due to things like preeclampsia, hemorrhiage, and some much rarer disorders. Let me repeat, pregnancy and childbirth are not 100% safe - no matter how much the so-called "pro-lifers" say.

    For someone who wants to know about how someone could end up in this situation, I suggest you read the blog "and I wasted all that birth control." This woman was put in the awful position of having to do a late-term abortion.

    The abortion in these cases rarely involve a viable fetus. In nearly 100% of the cases the baby is viable, it will die - sometimes in terrible pain. We are talking about chromosomal abnormalities that do not present before late in pregnancy.

    Though these situations are rare, they do occur. The scariest part of this legislation is that it sets a precedent of putting the government between a person and their physician. This is beyond terrible in its implications.


  • At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Jeff said…

    Sorry Matthew, sometimes I have a difficualt time saying what I mean. I'm an aging activist and was trying to say this (Hope I do it better this time):

    1. Ultra conservative fundamentalists try to personalize abortion by referring to the fetus as an "unborn child" hence they use a term like "birth". It's kind of like when they always refer to gay people referencing (anal) sex; hence "queer" is sometimes a better word than "homosexual".

    2. The fact that the sitting President gets to choose the Supreme Court replacements is much more serious than people give it credit. Once they are in, the Justices may sit for DECADES interpreting (or sometimes making) laws passed by the Legislative Branch.

    3. The actual ramifications of this decision mean that individual states can now BAN any kind of abortion (some are already working on it).

  • At 4:14 PM, Anonymous heather said…

    Ok I had to put my two cents in here...sorry little brother...I totally agree with the supreme court on this issue.

    I had my first child at 20 years old, and had my parents had their way, I would have had an abortion, but I figured if I was old enough to mess and get pregnant I was old enough to deal with the consequences of my actions.

    I am what you all would consider pro-life, but I am not going to condemn a woman to hell because she has an abortion. God endowed us with a free will to choose. He will allow us to choose and suffer the consequences of that choice. So therefore it is not my place to condemn another woman for her choice.

    Just what would the left have us call the unborn children? tissue? mass of cells?

    At 24 weeks a fetus/unborn child can survive outside of the mother's womb. That's around the 6 month of pregnancy. The child has a heartbeat at around 18 days after conception, how can it not be a child?

    As for the justices, why is that left screams when a conservative president puts conservative judges on the bench but when Clinton, put his two picks before the senate they slid on through without much fuss at all. I for one don't care much for Ginsburg's politics but know what, she was Clinton's choice and he was the sitting president at the time and well that's all there is to say about that. It was his decision and we all just have to do the best we can to argue our cases and hope they see things our way.

    Why is there this oh the world is going to hell in a handbasket attitude because things aren't going the way the left would like?

    Things are going the way the right would like either!

    Can we please get passed all this crap and just do the damn work that we elected them to do and quit all this bickering?

    Our brother serves in the military and while he does the congress is playing games with his ability to protect himself by tying all this crap to spending bills and what not....

    Sorry Matt, didn't mean to get off on a tangent just really fed up with the politicians this week....

    anyway go ahead and flame away if you like, but matt knows my politics so he won't be surprised by anything I have said...

    luv ya, bro!

  • At 6:53 PM, Blogger Matthew said…

    Hey Big Sister - not sure if you saw my decision line when i said if I agreed with the decision.

    I actually agree that the states should be able to decide the issue on this one.

    This type of abortion is hard for me to grasp my thoughts around. I dont know much about how women get into the situation and I do not want to judge, but I see how it would be necessary in some instances.

    But yes, I would have to say I agree with the decision.

    But - it does scare me when rights of any kind start to be taken away...oh well

  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger Matthew said…

    Jeff - I totally understand your points now from your second comment - and I can relate to you.

    Each time a president appoints new justices, there is always a chance that old laws could be re-written.

    *****AND BIG SISTER******

    One more comment for my big sis - back when Clinton appointed his last two judicial candidates as I call them....the two HOTBED ISSUES of ABORTION and GAY RIGHTS had not yet been turned into requirements for justices to be appointed.

    After Clinton, to be appointed by a Republican you had to be pro life and anti-gay. To be appointed by a Democrat, you had to be pro choice and pro gay rights.

    YOu can disagree with this, but if it were not true, how can you possibly explain how Ginsberg was appointed, being as liberal as she was....

    Unfortunately now politics plays too much of a role in the judicial role of gov't - unfortunate side effect...

  • At 10:52 PM, Anonymous heather said…

    I won't disagree with that. I would rather that neither side, be it liberal or conservative had to answer those kinds of questions. Ginsberg had it right when she said there are certain things she couldn't answer because those issues may come before the court.

    The basis for appointing someone to the court should be their past decisions, not their politics. I have never agreed with a litmus test. Litmus tests really screw up things because you can be totally against something and it still be legal and have to rule on the side of the law no matter your personal feelings on the issue.

    That is how it should be done, but alas I am afraid that is a perfect world, and we don't live in a perfect world.

    For example, flag burning, I don't agree with it at all, but unfortunately it is not against the law. And as I don't agree with legislating from the bench, if I were a judge I would have to rule on the side of those who burn the flags until such time as the congress changes the law.

    I view the role of the courts is to interpret the law, not make it.

    But you are correct if those two issues had been what was important back then it might have been a different story, I just wish it hadn't gotten to this point at all.

    It is very unfortunate that we can't just get the right person for the job, it's got to be the person with the right political viewpoint, regardless of their legal acumen.

  • At 11:12 PM, Anonymous nettie said…

    I look at my nephew and wonder how anyone could choose to have an abortion knowing what comes at the end of a pregnancy. I suppose that's an emotional argument.

    For your logic, I don't think Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned, and if it does, like you show, abortion will still happen. But I will always maintain the broken-heart position...


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