Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Needless Antiabortion Movement Scuffle

According to yesterday's article by Washington Post staff writer, Alan Cooperman, there appears to be a rift in the pro-life coalition of evangelical Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Focus on the Family. The split in the pro-life group comes over the USSC decision in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007), a decision which is widely viewed by many as a setback for the pro-choice movement.

The scuffle between Focus on the Family founder
James Dobson and evangelicals surrounds the Gonzales decision and determining whether or not the decision is really a setback for the pro-choice movement at all. Those in the pro-life movement who have criticized the decision rightly determine that the Court leaves entact the vast majority of methods used to conduct abortions. The Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 also has a health exception for mothers desiring an abortion in the second and third trimesters.

Thus the decision reaffirms the constitutional jurisprudence of the Court from previous decisions such as Stenberg v. Carhart (2000) and also Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1996). The Court is still talking about the ability of mothers to choose whether or not to abort when the fetus is previable (approximately before 21-28 weeks into gestation). In addition, the health exception is present for exigencies when the mother's health is put at risk by her baby.

Thus neither the pro-life or pro-choice movement appears to have gone backward or forward. If in fact that justices had struck down the law, the pro-choice movement would have admittedly garnered more strength. Yet, this decision does not serve to weaken the pro-choice movement at all. It may have provided the pro-life movement with more ammunition in the future, but ammunition against what?

It appears that the Court has found the right balance. Mothers can choose to abort regardless of their health previability, but after previability they cannot unless their health is at risk.

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