In what has been quickly hailed as the most significant Supreme Court Decision on abortion since Row vs. Wade, second trimester partial birth abortion was declared illegal in a 5 to 4 decision by the Supreme Court today. Reaction to the decision was swift on both sides with the pro-choice groups picketing the Supreme Court building today. President Bush was quick to applaud the decision.
The decision itself described this abortion procedure as both gruesome and unnecessary. In this procedure, labor is induced and when the child is partially born it is then killed. Some doctors were quick to suggest that this will make abortion more dangerous for women because some claim this is the safest second trimester procedure. Others say that it is completely unnecessary since there are other safe means to abort a fetus.
What is especially remarkable about this decision is no exception is made to the ban even if the life of the mother is in danger.
It will be remembered that President Bush moved swiftly to sign the original bill into law which had passed Congress in Nov. 2003. The bill was proposed by Sen. Rick Santorum and others in 2003, and it then underwent challenge after challenge until the case came before the Supreme Court three years.
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Debate has of course begun on whether this will embolden challenges to other radical abortion procedures in individual states. Perhaps most fundamentally this decision reflects a belief that a woman should not be allowed to do whatever she pleases with the child in her womb. At a minimum this decision signals a belief that some forms of abortion are inhumane and should not be legal.
For those of us who are pro-life this is an important day in a long struggle, but in reality it is only a small victory for the life of unborn children since abortions can be performed in various other ways.