Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the first-ever decision by the Court to uphold a total ban on a specific abortion procedure -- prompting the dissenters to argue that the Court was walking away from the defense of abortion rights that it had made since the original Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 recognized a constitutional right to end pregnancy medically. Roe v. Wade was not overturned by the new ruling, as some filings before the Court had urged.
The Court said that it was upholding the law as written -- that is, its facial language. It said that the lawsuits challenging the law faciallly should not have been allowed in court "in the first instance." The proper way to make a challenge, if an abortion ban is claimed to harm a woman's right to abortion, is through an as-applied claim, Kennedy wrote. His opinion said that courts could consider such claims "in discrete and well-defined instances" where "a condition has or is likely to occur in which the procedure prohibited by the Act must be used."
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking in the courtroom for the dissenters, called the ruling "an alarming decision" that refuses "to take seriously" the Court's 1992 decisions reaffirming most of Roe v. Wade and its 2000 decision in Stenberg v. Carhart striking down a state partial-birth abortion law.
Ginsburg, in a lengthy statement, said "the Court's opinion tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception protecting a woman's health." She said the federal ban "and the Court's defense of it cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court -- and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's lives. A decision of the character the Court makes today should not have staying power."
The Bush administration applauded the decision, calling it " a bright line between abortion and infanticide." Pumpkinhead also chimed in saying, "I applaud the Court for its ruling today, and my hope is that it sets the stage for further progress in the fight to ensure our nation's laws respect the sanctity of unborn human life."
Good, now we're one step closer to simply cutting women open, harvesting the infant, and then discarding the used incubator.