July 4, 2008
Remember Gonzales v. Carhart? That's the Supreme Court decision from last year that upheld the Congressional ban on partial birth abortion. Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion, and lawyers tied themselves up in knots trying to interpret it. Most agree it was a narrow victory for the pro-life cause, but it was a victory. That can be seen in last Friday's decision by the 8th Circuit to allow a South Dakota abortion law to go into effect, a case in which FRC filed a friend of the court brief.
Prior to Gonzales v. Carhart, such laws were routinely struck down before they ever came into binding, legal force. Kennedy specifically noted, however, that this approach (another of the distortions abortion causes to the law) would no longer be followed. If someone wanted to challenge a law as it was applied to them, they could, and the court would decide whether specific provisions of that law, rather than the entire law, violated the Constitution. The 8th Circuit applied that logic to a challenge to South Dakota's law, and allowed the law to go into effect.
The law merely provides that women seeking an abortion should be given complete information about the risks involved, etc, but Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry wanted to stop it at any cost, as usual, regardless of the fact women deserve to receive such information. However, the 8th Circuit rejected their old "business as ususal" approach to litigation concerning abortion and replaced it with some common sense.
A new day is dawning in abortion litigation.