Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

No Final Word for States on Late-Term Abortions Supreme Court's Refusal This Week to Rule on an Ohio Law Leaves Issue Unsettled

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

No Final Word for States on Late-Term Abortions Supreme Court's Refusal This Week to Rule on an Ohio Law Leaves Issue Unsettled

Article excerpt

Around the country, more and more states are enacting bans on a controversial form of late-term abortion - the so-called "partial-birth" method. In the last two weeks alone, four more states have barred the procedure, bringing the total to at least 20.

But confusion reigns over whether this rare type of abortion - which involves partial delivery of the fetus before its demise - is constitutional.

This week, a majority of justices on the Supreme Court decided not to confront the issue, letting stand an appeals court ruling that found Ohio's partial-birth ban unconstitutional. But in refusing to hear the case, the high court did not pass judgment on the merits of the lower court's argument. So all sides active on the issue - interest groups and legislators at both the state and federal levels - will keep fighting. And a nation already squeamish about this most unpleasant of medical procedures will continue to face a barrage of public discourse on it, likely intensifying as the fall elections approach. "It was a little premature, since this is the first case {on partial-birth abortion} to have reached the Supreme Court," says Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative public-interest law group. "When the right case comes along - and it will - the justices will rule." Striking down bans Abortion-rights supporters are confident that the courts will continue to strike down bans on partial-birth abortion, as they have done almost without exception. In recent months a judge in Georgia held that state's ban constitutional, but only in cases where the fetus could survive outside the womb. So far, no appeal has been filed on that ruling. But even if abortion-rights advocates keep winning, they know their opponents won't let up, as public opinion continues to support a ban on the late-term procedure. "The problem is that the antis will continue to tinker with these statutes, and they've shown they're effective in doing that," says Priscilla Smith, an attorney at the New York-based Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. …

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