The Washington Times
June 24, 2002
Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) should be applauded for introducing new legislation to ban partial birth abortion ("House GOP again eyes partial-birth abortion stoppage,"6/20/02), where a living child is partially delivered up to the head before his skull is pierced and his brain removed. One would think that Americans would not tolerate this.
In fact, most don't. Over half of the states have enacted laws to ban partial-birth abortion, and polls consistently show that the overwhelming majority of Americans (70 percent and above) support a nationwide ban. Yet, in 2000, the Supreme Court struck down Nebraska's ban on the procedure, and in doing so effectively called into question the constitutionality of other state bans and the twice-passed federal ban.
But Chabot's approach breathes new life into the issue. The Court's 2000 decision in Stenberg v. Carhart was based on a factually inaccurate conclusion from a lower court judge -- that the partial birth abortion procedure might be the safest abortion method in some circumstances. This conclusion runs smack up against the opinion of most in the medical profession and against even the American Medical Association, which concluded that partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary and should be banned.
So one lower court's error binds the Supreme Court, the states, and, in effect, the very hands of this country? Not so, says Rep. Chabot. As a co-equal branch of government, Congress may collect facts and draw conclusions. In fact, it has collected facts and drawn conclusions in numerous congressional hearings over a span of two sessions: Partial birth abortion is never medically necessary and never needed to protect the life or health of a mother. Will these new factual findings allow the Supreme Court to rule differently the second time around? It's done so before, according to the new legislation, and it is well worth giving the Court a chance to do it again.
Cathleen A. Cleaver, Esq.
Director of Planning and Information
Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20017