Yesterday, amid boisterous demonstrations outside, the U.S.
Supreme Court began deliberations on
the constitutionality of Nebraska’s ban on partial birth abortions.
Six of the nine justices voiced concern over the law, similar to
those in 29 other states, which prohibits medical personnel from
partially delivering a fetus, feet-first, puncturing the fetus’ skull
and suctioning out the brain.
Supporters of the procedure say partial birth abortion — known in
the medical profession as “D&X” for “dilation and extraction” — say D&X
is sometimes necessary to save the life of a mother.
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor expressed concern over the ban, saying it
could apply to more than just partial birth abortions. Specifically, she
noted that the procedure, as described in the Nebraska statute, “may be
very similar to” a type of abortion used far more often — called
“dilation and evacuation,” or D&E. That procedure involves ripping body
parts off a live in-utero fetus, including arms and legs, and pulling
the pieces out through the birth canal until all parts of the fetus have
Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg argued in favor of reinstating the ban on
Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg argued in favor of his
“The state interest here is drawing a bright line between abortion
and infanticide,” he said.
But Simon Heller, representing a Nebraska doctor, said none of the
state’s purported interests “is sufficient to override … a woman’s
interest in her health and bodily integrity.”
The state’s law, said Heller, is “so broadly written it could
prohibit most second-trimester abortions” and lead to making all
abortions “more dangerous for women.”
When O’Connor questioned the breadth of the ban, she indicated to
Stenberg that she believes the statute was drafted in order to prevent
D&E abortions as well.
Justices David H. Souter, John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and
Stephen G. Breyer seemed to doubt the Nebraska law’s constitutionality.
However, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Justice Antonin Scalia
and Justice Clarence Thomas, all of whom voted in 1992 to let states ban
all abortions, were clearly more sympathetic to the Nebraska law.
Justice Scalia discussed the “horror” of partial birth abortions,
which he repeatedly described as taking “a living, unborn child” from
the uterus and “killing that unborn child.”
In its 1992 ruling — the court’s most recent major abortion decision
– the court reaffirmed the core holding of its 1973 Roe vs. Wade
decision, which said women have a constitutional right to end their
The eight-year-old ruling, supported by O’Connor, Kennedy and Souter,
said states cannot impose any “undue burden” on abortion rights.
Stenberg argued that Nebraska’s law is not an undue burden — any
more than Pennsylvania’s 24-hour waiting period to get an abortion,
which the court also approved in 1992.
But Ginsburg interrupted to say Nebraska’s law — unlike the waiting
period — is not aimed at protecting a woman’s health or fetal life.
“This law seems out of the bounds that this court has set for
pre-viability regulation,” she said.
The court begins its investigation into partial birth abortion bans
at the same time Congress prepares to send its third such measure to
As reported in WorldNetDaily,
Clinton — who vetoed previous congressionally-approved bans — has
promised a third veto and has asked the court to strike down Nebraska’s
Nebraska’s law, along with those in Arkansas and Iowa, was
invalidated by a unanimous three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals. But a month later, another federal appeals court
upheld partial-birth abortion bans in Wisconsin and Illinois.
Beyond the horrific nature of late-term abortions — Justice O’Connor
characterized both D&X (partial-birth) and D&E abortions as “gruesome”
yesterday — abortions performed on more developed fetuses have come
under fire in the last few months over an equally gruesome concern:
allegations that late-term abortions may be encouraged in some cases in
order to obtain fetal tissue for profit.
According to Mark Crutcher, founder of the Texas-based non-profit
pro-life group Life Dynamics, the increasing demand for intact fetal
body parts is the main reason the abortion industry wants to protect
partial birth abortion from any restrictions.
Partial birth abortion “is about maximizing profits,” Crutcher told
WorldNetDaily in a previous report.
“First, you sell the woman an abortion. Then you turn around and sell
the dead baby you take out of her. But you have to take it out whole, or
you don’t have anything to sell.”
Eric Harrah, a former abortion clinic worker, said “live births” were
the industry’s “dirty little secret.”
“It was always very disturbing,” said Harrah, “so the doctor would
try to conceal it from the rest of the staff.”
Abortion providers and their defenders have countered criticism of
partial-birth abortions by saying the procedure is rare, and only
performed in dire circumstances where the fetus and/or the mother are
facing serious health threats.
However, in a stunning 1997 interview with the American Medical
the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion
Providers admitted having “lied through my
teeth” when he said the procedure was used rarely and only in certain
As reported by the New York Times, Fitzsimmons admitted that in “the
vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother
with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along.”
“The abortion-rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it,
and so, probably, does everyone else,” he said.
“The pro-choice movement has lost a lot of credibility during this
debate, not just with the general public, but with our pro-choice
friends in Congress,” Fitzsimmons told
American Medical News.
The court’s decision is expected by late June.