The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 against a "facial" constitutional challenge. Gonzales v. Carhart, No. 05-380 (U.S. Apr. 18, 2007). The 5-4 majority opinion includes shocking details about the "dilation and extraction" procedure at issue.
As Blawgletter reads it, the decision comes down to the majority’s conclusion that the state’s interest in preserving the health of a pre-viability fetus outweighs the woman’s interest in preserving her own health.
The brutality of the procedure appears to have so affected Justice Kennedy that he could not bring himself to side with the four justices who voted against further erosion of Roe v. Wade. He’d dissented from an earlier decision, Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914 (2000), that struck down a Nebraska ban on the same procedure because it didn’t allow exceptions to protect the mother’s health. Justice Alito, who replaced Justice O’Connor, supplied the deciding vote. Justice O’Connor joined the majority in Stenberg.