The replacement of O'Connor with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., a conservative and a Catholic, has convinced many legal experts that the court is prepared to uphold stricter regulation of abortion....The National Review has an editorial on the subject. Let's see how seriously it takes the central legal problem presented in the case, which is the comparative danger of the D&E. (Both the D&X and the D&E are gruesome and kill the fetus.)
After [Congress enacted the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act], federal judges in San Francisco, New York and Omaha conducted trials on lawsuits that sought to overturn it. They heard from doctors who teach in medical schools at Cornell, Yale, Columbia, Northwestern, the University of Pittsburgh and UC San Francisco.
By the middle months of a pregnancy, doctors remove the fetus with surgical instruments, using the D&X method or the more common "dilation and evacuation," called a D&E. In that procedure, the doctor breaks apart the fetus before removing it from the uterus.
Experts told the three judges that the D&X procedure was not the only safe way to perform abortions after 20 weeks, but was safer than D&E in some cases, especially for women who have a damaged immune system or are in danger of hemorrhaging.
"Congress can 'find' that the moon is made of green cheese. That doesn't make it so," Dr. Nancy Stanwood, who teaches obstetrics at the University of Rochester, said in a recent interview. "When you're doing surgery, shorter and faster is better. If an intact extraction is possible, it's preferable."...
Dr. Jill Vibhakar, who teaches obstetrics at the University of Iowa and performs abortions at an independent clinic in Iowa City, is a plaintiff with Carhart in the suit before the court. She said the justices face the same issue Wednesday that they did when they threw out the Nebraska ban [in Stenberg v. Carhart in 2000].
"Nothing has changed recently in medical practice. The only thing that has changed is that a moderate female justice has been replaced by a conservative male justice," Vibhakar said.
Nobody has ever shown an instance in which a partial-birth abortion was necessary to save the life or health of a woman. The most defenders can show is that there may be instances in which individual abortionists may decide that it is the safest method of abortion.That's shifting the subject. You have to face the fact that breaking up the fetus within the uterus creates dangerous fragments. I understand that a lot of people find both procedures monstrous. But as long as the woman has a right to an abortion, how can government deny her what is the safer of two procedures?
The sophisticated case is the one made by Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and in lower courts by, among others, Judge Richard Posner. The argument is that nothing morally distinguishes partial-birth abortions from other methods of abortion in the second and third trimester. What difference could it make to a fetus, these jurists ask, whether its feet are in or out of the womb when it is killed? The bans are irrational.
This argument has some force, but even more chutzpah. The Supreme Court, with the eager assent of all of these jurists, has declared that the child within the womb can have no protection. The mother has a right to kill it at any time it is within her. The ban on partial-birth abortion is an attempt to mark an outer boundary to this right.
If that boundary is to fall, one could, with equal force, ask what difference it makes to a child whether it is killed within the womb or entirely outside it. One could, that is, use the Court-enforced legality of late-term abortion to construct a right to infanticide. Surely some abortionist somewhere could be found who would conclude that it is safer for the mother to remove the child entirely from her womb before dealing the fatal blow.