Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Partial Birth Abortion Case

Lynn Paltrow, writing in American Prospect:

"Perhaps in the only good news that can be culled from the opinion, it constitutes the death knell of one of the anti-choice movement's favorite political ruses. For years the anti-abortion movement has argued that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, in part, because it federalized abortion and took power away from individual states to decide how to address the abortion issue. In this way, anti-choice activists implicitly reassured the public that even if Roe were overturned, abortion would undoubtedly remain legal at least in states like California, New York, and Washington."

"But in the wake of yesterday's ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart, there is now little to stand in the way of a federal law banning abortions everywhere if Roe is overturned. In other words, abortion is not really a question of states' rights, but rather of controlling all pregnant women regardless of the state in which they live."

It has always been absurd to think that after almost 40 years of fighting, the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v Wade on a Tuesday only to watch Vermont or Hawaii or some other state turn into a magnet for people seeking choice the next day.

Lynn Paltrow continues:

"According to Kennedy, failing to reverse the unanimous rulings of three lower federal courts, all finding the abortion ban unconstitutional, would risk repudiating "that the government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life."

Of course, this is where the Supreme Court and I go down different roads, since as a matter of law enforcement, I don't believe that the rights of a fetus should trump the rights of a living person. The emphasis I want to make here is on law enforcement, and exactly how invasive we want the government to be in certain family matters. We'll leave the implications of all of that for another day.

In the remainder of her analyses, Ms. Paltrow, an attorney, and the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women cites extraordinary examples of law enforcement demanding that a fetus trumps the life and liberty of a person:

"At least one federal court has said that sending police to a woman's home, taking her into custody while in active labor and near delivery, strapping her legs together and her body down to transport her against her will to a hospital, and then forcing her, without access to counsel or court review to undergo major surgery"

It's a Brave New World that the Supreme Court is hurtling down.

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. – Article XIV, Section 1."