Required for Con Law and Internship Students (Read NYT article or opinion)
In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy the Supreme Court upheld a federal law outlawing "dilation and evacuation" or "partial birth" abortions. In 2000 the Court struck down a state version of the ban in an opinion written by Justice O'Connor. O'Connor's replacement, Justice Alito, joined the majority in upholding the federal ban. The Act upheld this week in Gonzales v. Carhart does not contain an exception if the procedure is conducted to protect the health of the mother. The Court ruled that this exception was not necessary because there is not a medical consensus that the procedure is ever necessary to protect the health of the mother. Kennedy argued that "the government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life" and this interest "would be repudiated were the court now to affirm the judgments" that struck down the law.
In the dissenting opinion Justice Ginsburg argued that the Court "applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists....And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health." She reflected that "One wonders how long a line that saves no fetus will hold in the face of the Court's 'moral concerns.' The Court's hostility to the right Casey and Roe secured is not concealed. Throughout, the opinion refers to obstetrician-gynecologists not by the title of their medical specialties, but by the pejorative label 'abortion doctors.'"
Linda Greenhouse has analysis in the New York Times.