Supreme Court Hears Cases That Could Ban Abortion Procedures

By Bennett, Lisa | National NOW Times, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

Supreme Court Hears Cases That Could Ban Abortion Procedures


Bennett, Lisa, National NOW Times


In the first year of his second term, George W. Bush nominated a new chief justice and a new associate justice to the United States Supreme Court. A Republican-led Senate confirmed both Bush nominees despite a huge outcry from NOW and other groups concerned with the threat posed to women's rights and civil liberties by the record and ideology of both men.

Now, this reconfigured court is considering the constitutionality of the nation's first abortion procedures ban - a ban enacted by Bush and his cronies in Congress.

"This demonstrates perfectly why voters were right to loosen the right-wing's monopoly over our government," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "Bush used his allies' control in Congress to push through anti-abortion legislation, and he used their power to confirm anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court - justices who are likely to vote to uphold that very legislation."

On Nov. 8, just one day after the midterm elections, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood. Both cases address the deceptively-named "partial-birth abortion" ban that Bush signed into law on Nov. 5, 2003, while surrounded by an all-male group of grinning legislators.

The law bans the most common abortion procedure used after 12 weeks of pregnancy, and has no exception to allow its use if the woman's health is in danger.

One of the two cases, Gonzales v. Carhart, concerns the same doctor, the same state, and the same issues as did Stenberg v. Carhart in 2000, when Dr. Leroy Carhart challenged a Nebraska state law that banned certain vaguely-defined abortion procedures without including any exception for a woman whose health is at risk.

That Nebraska law, which was identical in effect to the federal ban, was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2000. Because the two bans are so similar, the Court's two newest members - Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito - will soon demonstrate whether they are committed to settled law, as they claimed during their confirmation hearings, or whether their documented opposition to abortion will lead them to overturn a clear precedent after only six years. …

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Supreme Court Hears Cases That Could Ban Abortion Procedures
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