High Court Ruling May Point to More Abortion Limitations

The Christian Century, May 15, 2007 | Go to article overview

High Court Ruling May Point to More Abortion Limitations


In upholding a federal ban on a rare kind of late-term abortion procedure, the Supreme Court may have begun undermining its key abortion precedent. Activists on both sides of the abortion issue said the court's 5-4 decision on "partial-birth" abortion was a possible turning point in the court's abortion jurisprudence.

"With today's Supreme Court decision, it is just a matter of time before the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 will also be struck down by the court," said a press statement from Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America.

James Tonkowich, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, agreed that the April 18 ruling chips away at the landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide by declaring the procedure constitutionally protected under a woman's right to privacy. "Roe is no longer the dictator over the Supreme Court," he said.

Meanwhile, abortion-fights advocates worded that Combs and Tonkowich might be right.

Carlton Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, issued a statement saying his group was "alarmed that the court has taken a step toward valuing a potential person over the woman whose life may be at risk." Lower federal courts had ruled against the abortion ban because it did not include an exception to protect the mother's health. The high court's previous abortion decisions dictated that such an exception must be part of any restriction on abortion rights.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said the ruling "shows Bush's appointees have moved the court in a direction that could further undermine Roe v. Wade and protections for women's health. The door is now open for politicians like George W. Bush to interfere even more in our personal, private medical decisions."

Keenan referred to Bush's two recent appointees to the court--Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito who both voted with the 5-4 majority in the decision. …

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