By continuing to browse our site, you are consenting to the use of cookies. Click here for more information on the cookies we use.


Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 29 June 2000

29 June 2000

29 June 2000 The US Supreme Court has struck down Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban by five votes to four. The court's majority opinion accepted Dr LeRoy Carhart's argument that the ban was so broad that it could have criminalized the more common dilation and evacuation procedure, in which the arm or leg of an unborn child may be pulled into the birth canal during abortion. The decision stated that Nebraska's law placed an unconstitutional "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose an abortion. The judgement does not automatically invalidate partial-birth abortion bans in other states, though it could render them unconstitutional if, as with Nebraska's law, no explicit exception to save the life of the mother is included. Justice Antonin Scalia, one of four members of the court who dissented, said in his official written opinion: "The method of killing a human child, one cannot even accurately say an entirely unborn human child, proscribed by this statute is so horrible that the most clinical description of it evokes a shudder of revulsion... the notion that the constitution of the United States, designed, among other things, 'to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, ... and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,' prohibits the states from simply banning this visibly brutal means of eliminating our half-born posterity is quite simply absurd." [CNN news online, 28 June; Zenit news agency, 29 June; text of the Supreme Court of the United States decision in the case of Stenberg vs Carhart, 28 June] Many individuals and organisations have reacted to the US Supreme Court decision in Stenberg vs Carhart, both positively and negatively. The Family Research Council called it "odious" and the "most unjust ruling in American history", while the Council on American-Islamic Relations described partial-birth abortions as infanticide and called the decision "astounding". The Christian Medical Association, a professional body with 14,000 members, accused the court of allowing "the inflicting of horrific pain on developing infants" and the American Life League's official statement read: "Ten, 15 or 20 years from now, today's Supreme Court decision will be cited to justify the selective termination of infants, toddlers, grandparents and the disabled." Republican presidential candidate George W Bush said that he was disappointed by the decision and would fight for a constitutional partial-birth abortion ban, but Al Gore, Bush's opponent for the presidency, welcomed it and said that the narrow majority should send a warning that "one extra vote on the wrong side ... would change the outcome and a woman's right to choose would be taken away." Other abortion advocates praised the decision, such as the National Women's Law Center, which commented that the case had been a direct assault on Roe vs Wade which Americans support "because they don't want the government or politicians interfering in this most private and personal decision." [Zenit news agency, 29 June; Las Vegas Sun, 28 June; PR Newswire, 28 June] The full text of the Supreme Court's decision, complete with the concurring and dissenting opinions of the justices, can be found at The High Court of Kerala [a state in the south of India] has ruled against the establishment of voluntary death clinics in district hospitals. Two petitions had called for the provision of such services for people who had no further desire to live, but the court decided that the voluntary taking of one's life for whatever reason constituted suicide and was therefore illegal. A government spokesman said that a meeting of experts had recently deliberated on this issue and had concluded that ethically all people have the right to live but no right to die, and that euthanasia was not permitted by law. [The Times of India, 29 June] A new survey in New Zealand has found that Maori teenagers are three times more likely to become pregnant than other groups, but five times more likely to go ahead with their pregnancies. Dr Nigel Dickson, of the University of Otago's Medical School, observed that whereas half of pakeha [non-Maori] teenage pregnancies are terminated, with Maoris it is only a quarter. Teenage pregnancy rates in New Zealand have been rising since the mid-1980s. [, One News online, 27 June] The University of Arkansas has bought the first device for measuring the brain signals of unborn children and intends to conduct a three-year trial. The device was designed and sold by a Canadian company, and researchers hope that the technology could help to detect and eventually to treat conditions such as cerebral palsy in the womb. [Vancouver Sun, 27 June]

Be the first to comment!

Share this article