Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Supreme Court Bans Partial-Birth Abortions

For the first time since 1973, when the Court established a woman’s right to an abortion, the Court justices have no banned partial-birth abortion. Religious zealots and far right conservatives are pleased with the bill, saying that it upholds the ‘sanctity of life’. To be clear the law bans a method of ending a pregnancy, rather than limiting when an abortion can be performed.
Pro-life argues that an embryo is a human being, thus entitled to protection, from the moment of conception and has the right to life. Therefore, abortion is murder. They say if the woman’s life is not in jeopardy, then abortion is wrong. Pro-life also argues that men pressure women into getting abortions, which seems to suggest that women aren’t offered many alternatives to abortion.
Pro-choice, however, argues that a woman’s right to control her pregnancy outweighs any right of the embryo or fetus. Pro-choice does not see the embryo as having the rights of a person. Pro-choice sees abortion as a private matter that the government should not have a hand in. Roe v. Wade (1973) held this belief.
This is a very controversial subject. Pro-life says that an embryo is a human being, but at what point is the fetus evolved enough to be considered a person. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that its 3 months. So one day before that it is not a person? And one day after that it is? There are many other arguments and concerns as well.
Perhaps the most famous is the bodily rights argument by Judith Jarvis Thomson. In A Defense of Abortion, Thomson argues that abortion is sometimes permissible even if the fetus has a right to life. Thomson gives her audience the hypothetical. Perhaps, you wake up next to a famous violinist. The violinist is unconscious with a kidney ailment. You happen to have the right blood type to help, so the Society of Music Lovers kidnaps you and plugged your circulatory system into his so that your kidneys can filter and work for the violinist. If you disconnect him, then he will die, but in nine months he will recover. Thomson believes you may unplug yourself from the violinist even though he will die. This right to life does not entail the right to use another person’s body, and so in disconnecting the violinist you do not violate his right to life but merely deprive him of the use of your body, something which he has no right to use.
But I digress. This new Court decision has the potential to open up the floodgates for abortion restrictions. This could hinder women’s rights and effectively eliminate—or at least narrow—women’s right to choose. I wonder what you think.

4 comments:

Iowa said...

Last semester this was our assigned case in Professor Stephenson's American Constitution class. I was on the pro-choice team. I knew that the Supreme Court case would be really close, but I didn't think that they would actually take away a woman's right to choose. There are so many Supreme Court cases (like Casey and Roe v. Wade) that support the idea that an obstacle cannot be placed in a woman's path that could jeopardize her health. It is unbelievable that a bunch of politicians in Washington and 9 justices can determine what decisions women can and cannot make about their own bodies.

John Ryan said...

We actually just talked about this in class today in Professor Stephenson's Civil Rights/Civil Liberties. He laid out for us how and why this happened and the future prospects of what this will bring. As I fear the same that this will open the flood gates to more and more abortion restrictions, Professor Stephenson does not believe the same. The most important aspect about this case is it is the first time a procedure has come into conflict. This is to say it is not when the woman can have an abortion, but the procedure of how the abortion is done. This plan calls for outlawing what is known as D&E or dissection and evacuation. The manner in which this abortion is described is rather gruesome and I will not get into it. However, one very important factor from Justice Kennedy's majority opinion is that if necessary the fetus can be given an injection to kill it. Therefore, we talked in class, it is not necessarily preventing a woman to choose her right to have an abortion, but it is how the actual procedure would be completed. Instead of cutting up the fetus and pulling parts out, the new proposed abortion is to inject the fetus with something that will kill it, then perform the procedure. In a sense, nothing is changing, except for whether or not the fetus is "alive" or "dead" when the dissection is taking place. Therefore, Professor Stephenson believes that Casey and Roe were untouched and therefore are in very little if any danger of being changed or overturned. I hope the opinion of Professor Stephenson is correct for the future of abortion limitations because I believe that a woman should have the right to choose no matter what her opinion would be.

YON said...

I researched this case very thoroughly last semester in a Gov 314 class. I believe that this is an awful street that the Supreme Court has chosen to follow. In doing this the highest court in the land curtailed a woman’s right to chose, which is so Un-American. Also by banning this process the court has banned many other forms of Intact D&E abortions. There are processes where the woman must have intact D&E to preserve her health. The Supreme Court made a boob decision.

Anonymous said...

(this is lex)
This is in response to John Madden. While you mention well known violinist example in moral philosophy, what about the "people seeds" example. This is where if a window is left open, one runs the risk of a people seed implanting in the room and that one does not have the right to terminate this life because one left the window open. The analogy being that if one is taking the risk of having sex, that one should be ready for the consequences.

Now that I brought up an example to contradict you, I will actually end up taking the pro-choice side. I am currently in a developmental biology class and in studying how many things can go wrong during pregnancy, I believe a woman should have the right to abortion. There are so many pregnancies that terminate on their own. If the child has some genetic disease or has been affected by a teratogen, I feel the mother should have the right to choose to continue her pregnancy or not. I definately believe that a woman has the right to choose when her own life is at risk.