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Opinion by Larry LeDoux, assistant professor of Communication
It’s OK to ban nationwide a medical procedure without providing a health exception, according to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in his April 18 precedent-shattering majority opinion banning one of two late-term abortion procedures. It’s OK because the other procedure wasn’t banned. (One hears an echo through time: was that “yet”?)

It apparently doesn’t matter that the other procedure is sometimes deemed less safe for women’s health, which is why medical professionals developed the procedure the congress and the court, in their medical wisdom, banned.

It apparently doesn’t matter to Kennedy and four other justices—Anton Scalia, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas—that the procedure they banned has been found medically necessary in some cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

It apparently doesn’t matter to the five (wise?) men of the highest court in the land that their medical opinion endangers the lives of hundreds of women and may ultimately kill more people than all the deranged campus gunmen put together.

It apparently doesn’t matter to the five justices, all Catholic, that, despite their denial that their religion affected their judgment, they are obeying the mandate of their Pope, Benedict XVI, who, when he was Cardinal Joe Ratzinger, said that everyone in public life who supported the right to choose should be excommunicated.

It apparently doesn’t matter to Roberts and Alito that they are foresworn before Congress and the American people. They testified, under oath, at their confirmation hearings that they would respect precedence on abortion, yet here they have overturned two 30-year-long precedents that required, first, that no new law impose an “undue burden” on women’s right to decide for themselves in matters that affect their body, and second, that a health exemption must be included in any ban of a disputed medical procedure.

Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman (The Honolulu Advertiser, April 20, 2007) presents two snapshots of history that remind us that we haven’t grown out, yet, of a millennium-long pattern of repression of women that, for the hypocrisy of its cloak in Christian values, is more serious and devastating than anything the Islamic jihadists, the Taliban, and Iran’s mullahs promote.

In one snapshot, President G. W. Bush is surrounded by middle-aged white men as he proudly signs into law the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. The male-chauvinist politicians who voted for it couldn’t even correctly name the procedure: except in the mind of the PR consults who envisioned it, no “birth” is involved.

In the second snapshot, then-President Bill Clinton, vetos an earlier version of the ban. (It was passed over his veto and then struck down by an earlier Supreme Court because it lacked a health exemption and placed an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose.)

“ Clinton surrounded himself,” Goodman writes, “with women who had been through pregnancies that came with an awful vocabulary: words such as hydrocephalus and polyhydramnios.”

Those women,” Goodman continues, and the doctors that supported them, obstetricians and gynecologists, “asked only for one exception to the ban—for serious health risks.”

Practicing medicine without a license is against the law. But U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would have to call for prosecution, and as he has already shown himself a tool of a corrupt administration, that is too much to hope for. Besides, he was the winner in this court case.

Lying to the U.S. Congress is also against the law, and since we do have a congress, now, that is not controlled by the party of the administration, Roberts and Alito should be impeached, if not for despoiling women’s rights and endangering women’s health, at least for having committed perjury before congress and the American people.

Write or e-mail your congress person now. Call for the impeachment of justices who lied under oath, and who cannot obey the very laws they are sworn to protect.
 
 

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