There are three simultaneous non-jury trials happening across the country as abortion proponents try to convince judges to block enforcement of last year's partial-birth abortion ban, and there's a lot of political positioning on both sides. One judge is even offering to step aside in favor of some "outside expert".
U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf (search) made the announcement from the bench as the Justice Department was preparing to call its last witness in the case.I don't imagine any such expert would be acceptable to both sides. Anyway, what's the point? As Republican Representative Steve King says,
Kopf said he would be willing to work with both sides to appoint an outside expert after all testimony in the trial is heard. He said he would discuss his proposition with lawyers from both sides after testimony ends Friday.
"Congress determined that a partial-birth abortion is never necessary to protect the health of the mother," said King, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. "I don't think it's possible for a single judge to sit in a courtroom and substitute his findings for the findings of 435 congressmen."And with that I tend to agree.
On Friday, King said Kopf's offer to work with a medical expert did not alleviate his concerns. Congress heard from many experts and constituents over eight or nine years before it passed the law, King said.
"It's virtually impossible for a court to gather that kind of information to overturn the decision made by the people of America through their voice in the entire U.S. Congress," King said.
Finally, the article gives some hard data on the number of partial-birth (D&X) abortions performed in the United States every year. I hadn't found such numbers previously, but some people had claimed to me that the annual count was mere dozens.
About 1.3 million abortions are performed in the United States each year, and almost 90 percent occur in the first trimester. The total includes an estimated 140,000 D&Es and 2,200 to 5,000 D&Xs.Although Professor Volokh may disagree (yes I know the topics are different, I'm just being snarky), outlawing abortions of convenience would probably be effective in decreasing the number of abortions performed each year. As Clayton Cramer argues, laws do affect behavior, even if gradually and over time. Laws often lead culture, rather than follow it, and it's hard to deny that the legalization of abortion has played a role in making abortion socially acceptable. (A similar argument can be made against libertarian calls for drug legalization, even though I'm sympathetic to the position.)