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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ayotte Ruling Handed Down Today

The USSC handed down a unanimous decision in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood. The decision itself is surprising in the fact that the court didn't review the act of abortion--there was no broad-sweeping, new rights granted--but rather addressed the simple question of whether or not it was constitutional to require parental notification for a minor obtaining an abortion.

It gave New Hampshire another chance to redefine its law requiring the notification, through much narrower terms. They ruled that lower courts may have gone too far in striking down the entire parental notice law, enacted in 2003. Declaring that pregnant teenagers sometimes need an immediate abortion to avert serious health problems, the Court said the New Hampshire law must be read to allow that when it occurs, which it suggested would be "in a very small percentage of cases."

If the law can be interpreted to make that particular exception, and still be in keeping with what the state legislature originally intended then the remainder of the law may remain intact. As it is written, the state law makes an exception for teenagers where an abortion is necessary to save the pregnant girl's life, but it does not make a health exception. Planned Parenthood states that because there is no "health exception" in the law, the law is unconstitutional. However, there IS a health exception: It provides the necessary framework to bypass the notification should it be deemed that the girl's life could be in danger if the pregnancy is carried to full term. In that case, an appeal to a judge can be obtained, and a judge may rule as to whether or not the exception need be made.

Justice O'Connor, in what many see as her final opinion as a member of the court, summed up the sentiments involved quite plainly in the opening paragraph of her opinion. It's interesting to note that her opinion, usually lengthy, was quite brief and to the point.

"We do not revisit our abortion precedents today, but rather address a question of remedy: If enforcing a statute that regulates access to abortion would be unconstitutional in medical emergencies, what is the appropriate judicial response? We hold that invalidating the statute entirely is not always necessary or justified, for lower courts may be able to render narrower declaratory and injunctive relief."

Aside from the unanimous decision (a rarity on the court regarding abortion), and O'Connor's brevity, there are a couple of other things to note about this decision.

--They didn't state--one way or another--that abortion restrictions needed to have the health exception.

--They didn't settle whether the laws concerning abortion would be judged by a different standard than other laws regarding their constitutionality.

--This was the first abortion case heard and joined by Chief Justice Roberts, who quietly joined in a single opinion.

The most interesting aspect of this case was the fact that the Justices were able to suspend their interneccine fight regarding their respective views on abortion, and simply do their job: rule on whether a provision within the law justified it's initial lower court strike-down. It's almost assured that this case did little to help the Justices reach a consensus on the issue, however their ruling did set forth that yes, abortion may be an "on demand" act, but that doesn't always extend to a minor. Instead of creating a new precedent, and one that could have been dangerous in terms of rights and responsibilities of minors and parents, the court simply did what it was tasked to do.

Neither side involved in this issue--pro-choice or pro-life--can really cal today a "victory" for their side. Both sides have their upside, but neither really have an edge now. Read and interpreted in it's broadest sense, the opinion could be understood as setting a new limit on lower court judges' authority to issue sweeping decisions that kill new abortion laws. It clearly calls for a much more discrete, refined review of the ways in which a law might be enforced validly.

If this is how the decision is applied by lower courts in this and other cases, it could amount to a narrowing of abortion rights. That is because it would place more reliance on the law and less reliance upon an individual doctor's professional judgment in individual cases; this is important when the abortion option is not considered in a truly emergency situation, but is only deemed medically advisable for a given patient.

The other benefit of this decision is another abortion case coming before the court in Gonzales v. Carhart which is directly challenging the federal ban on partial-birth abortions; a sickening and heinous act, in my opinion, as the child (not a fetus, you pro-abortion nutters) is killed while it's exiting the womb. This case will be highly contentious, and is surely one in which the battle lines will be clearly drawn not only amongst the activists of the issue, but also those on the court.

Publius II


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get the feeling that the Chief Justice is making his position felt including limiting the issue before the court. I understand he assigns which justice will write the majority opinion or in this case the unanimous decision. Thank you for your thoughts. Rawriter

1:20 AM  

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