Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Federal appeals court upholds Virginia’s ban on partial-birth abortions

"Dismembering a partly born child and crushing its skull"

Richmond, Va., Jun 26, 2009 (CNA) -- The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 6-5 decision on Wednesday, June 24, upheld Virginia’s partial-birth abortion ban. In his concurring opinion, one judge wrote that the law protects the “weakest” and “most helpless,” and condemned the use of the constitution to justify “dismembering” a partly born child and “crushing” its skull.

In its ruling in the case of Richmond Medical Center v. Herring, the court said the 2003 Virginia law does not unduly burden a woman’s legal right to terminate a pregnancy by more conventional means. It also ruled the law is clear about the type of procedure banned and adequately protects women’s health.

The decision reverses a May 2008 2-1 panel decision that struck down the law, which is similar to a federal statute prohibiting a procedure in which the baby is partially delivered and then killed.

According to the Alliance Defense Fund, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Fourth Circuit panel to revisit its original September 2007 decision that the ban was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court had upheld a partial-birth abortion ban in the case Carhart v. Gonzales.

Judge Paul V. Niemeyer authored the majority opinion in Wednesday’s decision, which won the concurrence of Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III.
"A partially born child is among the weakest, most helpless beings in our midst and on that account exerts a special claim on our protection," Judge Wilkinson wrote. “The fact is that we -- civilized people -- are retreating to the haven of our Constitution to justify dismembering a partly born child and crushing its skull,” his opinion continued. “Surely centuries hence, people will look back on this gruesome practice done in the name of fundamental law by a society of high achievement. And they will shudder.” 

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