High court endangers the health of women
The U.S. Supreme has upheld a federal ban on an abortion procedure intended to protect a woman's health.
ABORTION rights aimed at safeguarding a woman's health have suffered a disturbing setback in the U.S. Supreme Court, portending further erosion of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. Defenders of women's rights face a formidable legal and political battle in the years ahead.
By a 5-4 vote, the high court essentially reversed a 2000 decision that struck down a Nebraska law banning a procedure known in the medical profession as intact dilation and extraction, or "D&X," and by opponents of women's rights as "partial-birth abortion." Under certain circumstances, it is the safest procedure for abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy.
The reversal is due to the succession of retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who voted for the 2000 majority, by Justice Samuel A. Alito, who voted to criminalize the procedure. Abortion-rights advocates had hoped that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy would reconsider his 2000 dissent, but he authored Thursday's majority opinion.
Kennedy wrote that "the government may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman." That disturbing opinion could be used to strip women of all abortion rights, which Roberta Conths, president of the Christian Coalition, said "is just a matter of time."
Doctors often use D&X in performing abortions in the second trimester, when about 10 percent of all abortions occur. It is used to remove small fetal parts separately because repeated insertion of surgical tools can injure the uterus.
The federal criminalization of the procedure was enacted by Congress in 2003 and signed by President Bush. It was opposed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Nurses Association and many other medical organizations.
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