The Supreme Court's "Galling" Decision on Partial-Birth Abortion

Friday's "Editorial Observer" columnby veteran editorial board writer Dorothy Samuels took on the recent 5-4 Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal Partial Birth Abortion Act in "Reflections on the New Abortion Ruling and the Roberts Court." The text box accompany the editorial read: "When justices play doctor, watch out for women's health."

The signed editorial was harsh but unsurprising, given that Samuels served four years as executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union before joining the 18-member editorial board.

"When I read the new decision for the first time, its outmoded attitude toward women's autonomy had a familiar ring, but it took me a day or so to figure out why. Then I recalled concerns raised during Justice Alito's confirmation hearing regarding his opinion as a lower federal appellate judge supporting the constitutionality of a Pennsylvania law requiring that women inform their husbands before obtaining an abortion."


"Just a year ago, the court followed its practice and voted unanimously to allow a facial challenge to a New Hampshire abortion restriction. That meant it could go forward despite arguments that the plaintiffs should be made to wait for an actual health emergency to test the adequacy of the challenged provisions. Now, with no mention of the New Hampshire case, the new opinion by Justice Kennedy appears to foreclose such facial attacks in the abortion sphere. That could make it much harder to legally challenge unconstitutional restrictions.

"Another galling feature of the decision is its use of junk science. Its dismissive treatment of the overwhelming medical evidence supporting the need for a health exception to avoid harm to women, and the undue credence given to the flimsy assertions on the other side, disregard the court's own rules for evaluating expert testimony, as Linda Greenhouse, this newspaper's Supreme Court reporter, has noted."

Here's a sample of Greenhouse's unsympathetic coverage of the Court'sdecision upholding the Partial Birth Abortion act.