WASHINGTON (BP)--The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on a gruesome procedure known as partial-birth abortion April 18, delivering an important victory for legislative efforts to protect unborn children.
The high court's 5-4 decision reversed rulings by two federal appeals courts and affirmed the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act as the law of the land, marking the first judicially approved restriction on a specific procedure since the justices legalized abortion in 1973. The 2003 law prohibits an abortion technique that involves the killing of a nearly totally delivered baby normally in at least the fifth month of pregnancy.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in the majority. Kennedy, who affirmed the court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in a crucial 1992 ruling, wrote in the majority opinion that the ban does not infringe on the right to abortion declared previously by the high court, meaning Roe remains in effect. He said the ban is not vague and does not impose "an undue burden on a woman's right to abortion" based on it being either overly broad or lacking an exception for the mother's health.
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sharply disagreed in her dissent, calling the decision a retreat from previous rulings. She said the opinion was "alarming," and she described as "irrational" the idea the law advanced a "legitimate governmental interest." Associate Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter and Stephen Breyer joined Ginsburg in the minority. Read More