Elections have consequences, as if we didn't already know from the past seven sorry years in this country's history. (Not that George Bush was actually elected in 2000, of course, but that's another story). The latest demonstration of the old axiom is yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that, for the first time, outlaws a specific abortion procedure.
As a Washington Post editorial said, the ruling, prohibiting the procedure called “intact dilation and extraction” by medical professionals, and “partial birth abortion” by the pro-lifers, “is not apt to prevent any abortions: Most likely, the tiny percentage of women who would have undergone this admittedly gruesome procedure will instead opt to terminate their pregnancies by another procedure, equally, if not more, gruesome. But the 5 to 4 ruling...will certainly prevent some women from choosing the abortion procedure that their doctors believe would be safest in their individual cases.”
The new make-up of the Court, coming after Bush got John Roberts and Samuel Alito on the bench, is what led to the decision. Alito replaced Sanda Day O'Connor, a Reagan appointee and certainly not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination - but who voted against the ban last time it came before the Court - and now these old men are telling doctors how to do their job. And telling women what they can do with their body and the most personal and agonizing medical decisions they can make.
And it's the sheer cynicism of the pro-lifers that is astounding. Yes, the procedure sounds gruesome – especially when it's described in loving detail by the anti-choice crowd as it often is – but pregnant women don't wake up one day, eight months along, and say, “Hey, I think I'll swing down to the clinic today and get that abortion. I've been meaning to do it for the last six months, just never had the time.”
Chances are if a woman is having the procedure, something went wrong and her doctor believes it's the only way to intervene. Doctors often decide it's the best way to give the woman a better chance to have a successful future pregnancy.
And of course, this is only the beginning. The anti-choicers realize the American public doesn't want to ban abortion, no matter how uncomfortable the subject makes them, so they are chipping away at the right bit by bit. This is just the first step.
Yesterday, the Republican candidates – even the allegedly pro-choice Rudy – were tripping over themselves praising this ruling.
The next president will no doubt get to appoint one or two more justices. It's just one more thing to consider when you step into the voting booth next November.
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