Despite Congress recently passing a national ban on partial-birth abortions, a judge in Virginia has overturned a state law which also banned the procedure. The basis for his ruling was that the ban "failed to make an exception for the health of the woman", but apparently the judge isn't aware that the American Medical Association has said that the procedure is never medically necessary.
In recognition of the constitutional principles regarding the right to an abortion articulated by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, and in keeping with the science and values of medicine, the AMA recommends that abortions not be performed in the third trimester except in cases of serious fetal anomalies incompatible with life. Although third-trimester abortions can be performed to preserve the life or health of the mother, they are, in fact, generally not necessary for those purposes. Except in extraordinary circumstances, maternal health factors which demand termination of the pregnancy can be accommodated without sacrifice of the fetus, and the near certainty of the independent viability of the fetus argues for ending the pregnancy by appropriate delivery.Donald Sensing has more on the medical community's view in a post from last year.
When writing the national ban last year, Congress heard testimony from many medical experts and concluded the lengthy preamble of its bill by stating, "For these reasons, Congress finds that partial-birth abortion is never medically indicated to preserve the health of the mother."
Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights attempts to use the weight of authority to bolster her side of the debate.
"Courts across the country - including the U.S. Supreme Court - have been clear that such bans are an unconstitutional threat to women's health and lives," Nancy Northup, president of the center, said in a statement Monday.Fortunately for millions of unborn babies, courts are not the highest medical authorities in the nation, nor the highest political authorities. For the medical side of the question, I'll trust the judgement of the AMA. As for the political: in addition to the national ban, more than 30 states have also banned partial-birth abortions, demonstrating that the majority of Americans are against what is essentially infanticide.
Xrlq comments and links to a post of his from last year that points out that the federal partial-birth abortion ban is blatantly unconstitutional. He's right, of course. The problem I have with his position, however, is that he's failing to see the forest through the trees.
I'm a federalist, but not because I love federalism. I support federalism because I love liberty, and I believe the separation of powers between national and state governments promotes liberty.
There is no more egregious infringement on liberty than murder, and no matter how federal our country may become if it fails to prevent the murder of a million babies a year it isn't successfully defending liberty. Federal murder laws aren't necessary because every state already bans the murder of adults. Ideally, states will also ban abortion and no federal intervention will be required. However, that not being the case (largely due to federal intervention by the Supreme Court), I'm perfectly happy to sacrifice some federalist principles for the larger cause of protecting liberty.
Any Constitutional system that results in the murder of a million babies a year -- regardless of what other liberties it protects -- is fundamentally flawed. The Constitution, and federalism, should serve liberty, and in cases where they don't I will not be bound to defending them.