Saturday, June 04, 2005

VA late-term abortion law overruled

The Virginia anti-abortion law passed in 2003 and blocked the very same day by a US District judge has been ruled unconstitutional by the 4th District US Court of Appeals. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the Court followed Supreme Court precedent and ruled the law invalid because it lacked a provision to exempt situations involving danger to the mother's life.

::::::::The 2 to 1 ruling by a panel of the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld a lower court decision that threw out the law. The measure made it a crime for doctors to perform the procedure, which opponents have labeled "partial birth infanticide." The law, passed in 2003 over the objections of Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), was similar to the national ban approved by Congress the same year.

Yesterday's decision reignited some of the passions of a debate that has been waged nationally since numerous states passed laws, starting in the mid-1990s, banning the procedure. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Nebraska's ban unconstitutional in 2000, and federal courts in three states have struck down the national ban. Those cases are on appeal.
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The really sad part about this is that this is the 2nd such law in Virginia to be overturned for the same reason. The same court struck down that law in 1998 also for not having the provision in there about danger to the mother's life. The national bill approved by Congress was ruled unconstitutional because it lacked a provision to exempt situations involving danger to the mother's life. A Nebraska law was ruled unconstitutional because it lacked a provision to exempt situations involving danger to the mother's life. Are we starting to see a pattern here? How many times do we have to see this played out in court?

The specific procedure they're talking about here is the so-called "partial birth' or, more accurately, the "DNX" procedure. Note that no other form is being banned, so this isn't a ban on abortion as a whole. At least that's the party line. I don't buy it, of course, because I've had close dealings with the so-called "pro-life", actually anti-choice diehards and I know damn well they're looking for any excuse to introduce just such a full ban. That said, I can't say that banning this procedure - in events where another procedure would do the job - is a bad thing, and I'm willing to accept that. I'd accept it if they'd moderate their position and allow that exception that keeps getting these bills killed. Seems they can't do that.

Hugh Hewitt, a man whose writings I generally respect, has called pro-choice people "abortion absolutists" and has called for them to "moderate their position." I'm calling for the same from the anti-choice people. Accept that the decision properly rests in the hands of the citizens faced with the decision and be willing to promise to allow that choice to be available. Do that, and you'll find those of us on the pro-choice side more willing to discuss banning of certain specific procedures. For now, the anti-choice crowd is just going to have to go back to the drawing board.