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supremecourtThe Supreme Court handed down a momentous ruling yesterday in the fight for abortion rights. The ruling upholds the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Act passed by Congress in 2003. On its face, this ruling only bans a very small number of rarely performed abortion procedures. However, the court has made sweeping changes to the way it views abortion law that may have severe consequences down the line. Although scholars and experts are still trying to pick through this dense and vague decision, it appears that the following things have occurred (Thank you to the Reproductive Rights Prof Blog for the helpful information):
  • The strength of the right to abortion has been lowered (the court is unclear about whether a fundamental right still exists)
  • State interests that can restrict abortion have been increased (we will see more restrictions on the state level)
  • Abortion restrictions are no longer unconstitutional if they lack an exception for the health of the woman (do you need this procedure so you don't become infertile? The Supreme Court doesn't care!)
  • As-applied challenges are the only appropriate challenges (this means one woman, or one doctor has to come forward)
  • Legislators are free to legislate how and when medical procedures are performed and force doctors to perform procedures that they feel are riskier for their patients
All of the above statements should be qualified with "appears to" and "may" but chances are, if there's a loop-hole, then anti-choice lawmakers and advocacy groups will use it and we can no longer count on this Supreme Court to even uphold Roe v Wade should it come to that.In case you're trying to decide who to vote for over a year from now, The New York Times Caucus Blog has a roundup of candidate statements on the ruling.Digg!