Legal experts will debate the meaning of the Supreme Court’s 5 – 4 decision that upholds a ban on partial-birth abortion. As an activist I am struck by one simple fact: The majority on the Court established in Gonzalez v. Carhart that abortion is no longer sacrosanct. In language that is startling because it comes from the Court, the Justices display respect for unborn life, describes how abortion harms women and determines that abortionists shouldn’t get to decide whether their acts are criminal.
After decades of ignoring the child who is killed in an abortion, and blindly believing that mental anguish only comes from not getting an abortion, the Court conveys value on the pain and loss caused by abortion.
In Gonzalez, the Supreme Court deliberates an abortion procedure too grisly for most Americans to stomach and too inhumane to be done on convicted terrorists, yet it was committed against defenseless babies. Known as “intact D&E,” a baby’s body is pulled out of the mother’s womb until only her head remains in the birth canal, then her skull stabbed and brains sucked out.
Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy premises that “the government has a legitimate, substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life.” The Court recognized that the government may use its, “voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman.” Roe “undervalue[d] the State’s interest in potential life.”
Even more so, the profound and unique relationship of a mother to her baby is a reflection of the worth of these little ones. “Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child,” note the justices. The law at the center of this case recognizes that reality by banning this gruesome procedure.
The abortion lobby prefers to keep the focus on abstract issues like women’s rights. But abortion is not an existential topic. There are very real moral, physical and emotional consequences. As the Court put it eloquently:
The State has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed. It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast developing brain of her unborn child….”
This is what the courts are supposed to deal with: facts and evidence. But when it came to abortion the Court had, up to Carhart, deviated from all usual practices. For years the abortion lobby succeeded in overturning pro-life laws by claiming hypothetical situations — some woman somewhere might be harmed by even minor regulations on the hideous act.
In Gonzalez, the justices admit the Court has not followed its own rules when it comes to abortion. No more, they seem to say. Evidence trumps theoretical claims. Referring to evidence from medical experts, the Court found a “moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion…is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited.”
The minority, led by Justice Ginsberg, rejects this consensus because “[N]one of the six physicians who testified before Congress had ever performed an intact D&E.” The people who commit the act, they say, should decide what can be legal. They were outvoted, though, by the majority who state, “The law need not give abortion doctors unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice, nor should it elevate their status above other physicians in the medical community.”
The minority are absolutely appalled. Women, if they cannot get a partial-birth abortion, will lose all ability to succeed and advance. People, other than abortionists, will have a say in abortion policy. And the Court should not use language such as “baby.” It’s all so archaic, they tell us.
Ginsberg and company refuse to see the damage they’ve done in the name of “women’s rights.” To the women they claim to be championing, to the baby girls who have been slaughtered, and even to the medical community. A profession that has dedicated itself to healing is tainted by the insistence that their community harbor the perpetrators of death. Gonzalez notes that it upholds the law’s purpose of “protecting innocent human life from a brutal and inhumane procedure and protecting the medical community’s ethics and reputation.”
The Supreme Court has begun to correct the inconsistencies of its own abortion jurisprudence. And the abortion lobby must deal with the reality that its old deceitful tactics will no longer work.
This decision marks a step forward in the fight for life. And, one could say, a step back — to ponder what actually occurs in an abortion, what happens to women after, and to ever-so slightly corral abortion policy into the protective confines of the ethic to treat one another, even those yet to be fully born, as you would want to be treated. It marks a course correction to the foundation that made America safe for the weak and outcast, to the self-evident truth that the first inalienable right bestowed by the Creator is the right to life.
In a case several years ago the Supreme Court upheld an injunction that resulted in pro-life protesters being jailed for simply praying. The abortion lobby — vigilant to crush any hindrance to abortion — accused the pro-lifers of being violent. Justice Scalia criticized his colleagues for believing this. The justices must not have watched the videotapes, he said, which clearly showed they had been peaceful.
Now, with new faces on the Court, Scalia has a majority who consider all the evidence. No longer does the abortion lobby control the rules of debate.