Far-right members of Congress and their allies in the Bush administration have made restricting reproductive rights a priority for the 108th Congress, from packing the courts with anti-choice judges to pushing legislation that would cripple reproductive freedom worldwide. The latest assault on reproductive rights comes in the form of unconstitutional legislation to ban what the bill’s supporters call “partial-birth” abortion.
Language in the legislation being considered in the Senate this week is purposefully vague and broadly worded so that it would not just prohibit a particular abortion procedure but also would set the stage for further encroachments on reproductive freedom. The term ‘partial birth abortion’ is a political term not recognized by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other medical professionals who oppose this bill for several reasons, including its interference with the doctor-patient relationship and lack of an exception to protect the health of the woman.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a similar Nebraska ban was unconstitutional on the grounds that it did not contain a health exception for the health of the woman and was so broadly worded it could have applied to other safe and common abortion procedures. People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said anti-choice lawmakers are simply ignoring the Supreme Court ruling in order to make political hay with this bill.
“This bill is designed to inflame public opinion on the abortion issue with deceptive rhetoric,” said Neas. “It is calculated to shift public attention away from the widely supported view that women should make decisions about their own healthcare in consultation with their doctors without interference from the government. The bill is a plainly unconstitutional affront to women’s rights and should be rejected.”
Neas said the narrow 5-4 Supreme Court majority that struck down Nebraska’s invasive and unconstitutional law is evidence of the huge impact that future Supreme Court nominees will have on Americans’ rights and freedoms.