In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has upheld a nationwide ban on “partial birth” abortion, “marking a shift on the high-profile issue and underscoring the impact of President George W. Bush’s two high court appointments.”
The justices “refused to invalidate the 2003 law even though it lacks an exception for cases posing a risk to the mother’s health. The court also rejected claims that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act is so vaguely worded it would force doctors to forgo a commonly used, constitutionally protected abortion technique for fear of prosecution. ”
UPDATE: In the majority were swing vote Anthony Kennedy, along with Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas.
UPDATE II: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a scathing dissent:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking out 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.”
UPDATE III: Justice Clarence Thomas authored, and Justice Antonin Scalia joined, a 137-word concurring opinion, which appears to have the sole purpose of stating: “I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court’s abortion jurisprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973), has no basis in the Constitution.”
UPDATE IV: The nation’s leading group of professionals providing health care for women, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, opposed this law because the banned procedure is often the best option for women:
The intact variant of D&E offers significant safety advantages over the non-intact method, including a reduced risk of catastrophic hemorrhage and life-threatening infection. These safety advantages are widely recognized by experts in the field of women’s health, authoritative medical texts, peer-reviewed studies, and the nation’s leading medical schools.
UPDATE V: Steve Benen: Elections have consequences.
UPDATE VI: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “I am disappointed. Criminalizing doctors for performing medically necessary procedures to save a woman’s life or protect her health is wrong. The Court’s decision is a significant step backwards.”
UPDATE VII: In light of today’s ruling, Marty Lederman updates his post on the “profound effects” that Justice O’Connor’s retirement is having on the court.