LIFE DIGEST: Majority of Americans favors high court's partial-birth abortion ruling

WASHINGTON (BP)--A majority of the American public approves of the Supreme Court's April decision to uphold the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, according to a new survey.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll found 55 percent of the public supports the high court's 5-4 opinion in favor of the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act. It marked the first judicially approved restriction on a specific procedure since the justices legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. The survey results, published July 29 in The Post, showed 43 percent of the public opposes the decision and 2 percent has no opinion.

The poll also showed 31 percent of Americans thinks the court is too conservative, an increase from 19 since the question was last asked in July 2005. The new survey also found 18 percent believes the court is too liberal and 47 percent thinks it is generally balanced. Two years ago, 55 percent of the public believed the court was balanced.

Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat, said July 27 the Supreme Court "is dangerously out of balance" and the Senate should not confirm another nominee to that bench "except in ordinary circumstances," according to The Politico, a Washington newspaper.

"We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts, or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito," Schumer told a meeting of the American Constitution Society in Washington.

Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, 87, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 74, are the two oldest members of the high court. As members of the liberal wing of the court, they oppose restrictions on abortion. Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito are Bush nominees who were in the majority in the partial-birth abortion ruling.

Dana Perrino, a White House spokeswoman, said the comments demonstrate "the kind of blind obstruction that people have come to expect from Senator Schumer."

"He has an alarming habit of attacking people whose character and position make them unwilling or unable to respond," Perrino said. "That is the sign of a bully."

The Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act bars a procedure in which, as typically used, an intact baby is delivered feet first until only the head is left in the birth canal. The doctor pierces the base of the infant's skull with surgical scissors before inserting a catheter into the opening and suctioning out the brain, killing the baby. The technique, which normally is performed in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy, provides for easier removal of the baby's head. The law allows an exception if the mother's life is threatened.

A nurse who witnessed a partial-birth abortion once told Congress she saw the "baby's little fingers ... clasping and unclasping, and his little feet ... kicking" before going "completely limp" after the skull was collapsed.

BIG BUCKS FOR 'WRONGFUL BIRTH' -- A Tampa, Fla., jury awarded $21.1 million July 23 to a couple who would have aborted a second child had they known he had the same disorder as his older brother.

Daniel and Amara Estrada won the award in the "wrongful birth" case for negligence by a University of South Florida doctor, who failed to diagnose their first son, Aiden, with the genetic ailment before the birth of their second son, Caleb, The Tampa Tribune reported. Aiden is three years older than his brother.

Both boys have Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, a disorder in which a child fails to produce cholesterol. The effects can include cleft palate, genital deformities, heart defects, and extra fingers and toes. The Estradas' sons are unable to communicate, according to The Tribune.

The Estradas said USF doctor Boris Kousseff failed to diagnose Aiden with the syndrome after his birth. Their lawyer said the syndrome in Caleb could have been detected by a test during pregnancy, The Tribune reported. The Estradas said they would have chosen an abortion if their second son had tested positive for the syndrome, according to the newspaper.

Though the jury award is $21.1 million, state law caps claims against government agencies, in this case USF, at $200,000. The Estradas will have to ask the Florida legislature to approve the difference in that figure and the jury award.

The Estradas would like to have another child but plan to abort the baby if he tests positive for the syndrome afflicting Aiden and Caleb, The Tribune reported.

PROTECTING UNBORN GIRLS -- India's first woman president will seek to put an end to the widespread, gender-based abortion of females.

Pratibha Patil, 72, was sworn in July 25 and called for action against sex-selection abortions that result in the deaths of an estimated 7,000 unborn girls a day in India, according to the United Nations Children's Fund, Agence France-Presse reported.

"We must banish malnutrition, social evils, infant mortality and female feticide," she said in a speech to India's Parliament, according to AFP.

A preference in India for sons has fueled the abortion onslaught against girls and produced an imbalance between the sexes. There are 927 females for every 1,000 males in the populous Asian country, contrasted with a global average of 1,050 females for every 1,000 males, AFP reported.

In June, police arrested a doctor on charges of illegally aborting 260 unborn girls. They had recovered bones from the septic tank of his clinic near New Delhi, according to Reuters News Service.


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