Reactions to Important Supreme Court Decision

April-May 2007

Cedar River Clinics' response

Scott Lemieux excellent analysis in several articles online at The American Prospect (subscription required)

Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women - in The American Prospect (Miscarriage of Justice) -"The federal "partial-birth" abortion ban has grave implications for all pregnant women, not only those seeking to end pregnancies.

ACOG - American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology - "Today's decision to uphold the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is shameful and incomprehensible to those of us who have dedicated our lives to caring for women," said Douglas W. Laube, MD, MEd, ACOG president. "It leaves no doubt that women's health in America is perceived as being of little consequence.

August 2007 Editorial in ACOG journal Obstetrics & Gynecology: "Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, made clear his rejection of evidence-based practice by failing to include a single medical reference in support of his opinion."

New England Journal of Medicine - “Both health care providers and patients should be alarmed by the current degree of intrusion by our government into the practice of medicine” --New England Journal of Medicine." see The Partial Death of Abortion Rights

"Physicians don't use the term "partial-birth abortion," which was coined in 1995 by the National Right to Life Committee, which seeks to outlaw abortion. "It doesn't exist as a medically defined procedure," says Dr. Eleanor Drey, an obstetrician/gynecologist and medical director of the Women's Options Clinic at UC San Francisco. But, she says, because legislatures and courts have legally defined it, physicians have to determine what is meant by it.   -- Learn more about the banned procedure in this LA Times article.

"The five Supreme Court justices on the majority in the 5-4 decision were all Catholic men -- Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia. All were appointed by conservative Republican presidents who oppose abortion, including President George W. Bush." Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in Scientific American

MORE from Scientific American article:
The group also complained about Catholic-owned hospitals that refuse to sterilize women who ask for it, refuse to let doctors perform abortions and do not provide contraception.

"Doctors, pharmacists and nurses are also increasingly exercising a so-called 'religious or moral objection,' refusing to provide essential services and often leaving patients without other options," the group said in a statement.

CODIFYING RELIGION: "And now, to make it worse, the government is codifying these refusals, first through legislation and now with the recent Supreme Court decision, where five Catholic men decided that they could better determine what was moral and good than the physicians, women and families facing difficult, personal choices in problem pregnancies," it added.

Bonnie Scott Jones, senior attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights - In a stunning sacrifice of women’s health and physician judgment, the majority has held that where differences of opinion exist in the medical community, politicians may decide what doctors should do.

The Supreme Court's New Moral Authority - in the Minnesota Daily - "the Supreme Court of the United States decided the potential life of a fetus is more important than protecting the health of the woman carrying it."

National Women's Law Center - When the Court last addressed this very issue seven years ago, it struck down a state law banning this procedure, in a 5-4 opinion written by Justice O’Connor. The Court’s balance has shifted with Justices Roberts and Alito. This new majority has declared open season on protections under Roe that women have relied on for 34 years.

Banning Logic - Supreme Court's Partial-Birth Muddle - Jacob Sullum - "Whether the Act constitutes a permissible exercise of Congress' power under the Commerce Clause is not before the Court," Justice Clarence Thomas noted in his concurring opinion. Instead of discussing the right to abortion, the Court should have been questioning Congress' authority to regulate the practice of medicine, which is equally hard to find in the Constitution

Dahlia Lithwick at - Father Knows Best: Dr. Kennedy's magic prescription for indecisive women. With a stirring haiku about how "respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child," Justice Kennedy interpolates himself between every one of those mothers and every child she might ever bear. One core proposition that's held true from Roe v. Wade to Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Stenberg was that abortion regulations, in order to be constitutional, required an exception if the mother's health was in danger. For the first time today, Kennedy determines that a court's factual determination about whether some procedure may be necessary to protect the mother's health can just evaporate in the face of "medical uncertainty."

Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health - "It is absurd to think that Congress knows more about medical safety than doctors, yet that is exactly what the Supreme Court has declared."

"The Ban will especially burden poor women and their families because they are more likely to have later abortions as they struggle to raise the money needed to pay for them. Poor women, who are disproportionately Black, Latina, Asian and Native American, will be left with fewer options. Young women, who often have minimal access to resources will be similarly affected." -- National Network of Abortion Funds

Safe, Legal and Unavailable? Abortion Politics in the United States is Melody Rose's book released in May 2007. Writes Scott Lemieux about the book: "...Anthony Kennedy's opinion -- attempting to answer the inherently unanswerable question of what legitimate purpose an abortion regulation that protects neither fetal life nor a woman's health could possibly have -- used nakedly sexist premises to justify the ban. (It is a grim irony that Kennedy's celebration of the state's paternalistic regulation of hysterical, flighty women who don't understand their own most fundamental interests comes in the context of an opinion defending a patently irrational law containing consistently illogical reasoning and vacuous emotional rhetoric.) As political scientist Melody Rose's study of abortion politics in the United States demonstrates, however, Kennedy's sexism merely makes explicit what has long been implicit in conservative justifications of abortion regulations." Available from Powell's.

WomensENews -- In the two weeks since the Supreme Court upheld a controversial abortion ban that has no health exception, state lawmakers have pushed anti-choice legislation in Michigan, Louisiana, Iowa, North Dakota, Georgia and North Carolina. And that is only the beginning, say reproductive rights advocates who are also watching Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas.

Read the Decision: Gonzales v. Carhart of April 18, 2007


We need to build a new movement that honors all women’s human rights, cares about the health and safety of women’s reproduction, and places individual woman’s moral authority about her pregnancy first and foremost above all others including the Supreme Court, Congress, state legislatures and judges.

We must call this decision what it is: insulting to women, blatant gender discrimination, and an affront to the human rights of women.

Urge your US Senators and Representative to repeal the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.”

page update: May 25, 2007

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Feminist Women's Health Center - Cedar River Clinics