Pro-life Americans are cheering the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear an important abortion case. The Court announced it would hear the appeal in Gonzales v. Carhart, which involves a challenge to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

The significant part of this news is that the Court’s new makeup – influenced by President Bush’s two nominees (Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito) – offers fresh hope to supporters of life.

The federal partial-birth abortion law, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2003, has been the target of a stream of court challenges since its passage. The suits have been brought by abortion-rights advocates who want a vague health exclusion attached to the law, giving doctors an easy out to perform the grisly abortion procedure. Such an exclusion would render the law virtually meaningless.

In the 2000 Supreme Court Carhart v. Stenberg ruling, the Court struck down (5-4) a law banning partial-birth abortion. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who is now retired, was in the majority in that case. That ruling struck down the partial-birth abortion ban that had been enacted by Nebraska, rendering unenforceable related bans that a majority of states have enacted.

Had Justice O’Connor remained on the bench today, it is unlikely that that the Court would have voted to take up this new partial-birth abortion challenge.

Liberty Counsel President and General Counsel Mathew Staver says the more probable scenario would have been for the Court to deny review and allow the lower court decision to stand.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law, which bans partial-birth abortion under the prior precedent in Carhart v. Stenberg.

Mr. Staver says that while it is speculative, for the Court to take the case of Gonzales v. Carhart, it is probable that at least five justices believe that the outcome this time will be different.

Staver said this is an important case in terms of abortion.

“No matter how far you stretch the Constitution,” he said, “you cannot find a right to abortion lurking anywhere within its shadows. Abortion is an extreme makeover of the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Liberty Counsel will file a brief in support of the law that bans partial-birth abortion.

Outlawing abortion

In other news that is surely giving abortion-rights proponents heartburn, Wednesday the South Dakota Senate voted to ban most abortions.

The bill, HB 1215, passed the Senate by a vote of 23-12, while a similar bill passed the House by a vote of 47-22. The bill will now go back to the House to approve changes made by the Senate, and from there the bill will go to Gov. Mike Rounds for his signature.

Section 1 of the bill states that “life begins at the time of conception, a conclusion confirmed by scientific advances since the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, including the fact that each human being is totally unique immediately at fertilization.” The bill also states that “to fully protect the rights, interests, and health of the pregnant mother, the rights, interest, and life of her unborn child, and the mother’s fundamental natural intrinsic right to a relationship with her child, abortions in South Dakota should be prohibited.”

Please join me in praying that our efforts to safeguard the most innocent of life are being rewarded. More than 46 million unnamed voices cry from the grave in America, never having been given a chance to live. An average of more than 1 million babies continue to be killed each year via surgical and other abortions.

We must never give up the fight to save these precious lives.

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