Circular Reasoning

There's a medical procedure so gruesome, it almost makes the Nazis look like humanitarians by comparison. I'm referring, of course, to partial birth abortion, in which a live baby is guided into the birth canal and then deliberately killed. In the past few years, more than thirty states have outlawed this barbaric procedure. The usual response, however, is for the abortion lobby to rush into court and get the court to throw out the state laws, thwarting the democratic process. For example, last month, an appeals court overturned partial birth abortion bans in Nebraska, Arkansas, and Iowa. But good news: One court has now decided to uphold a state ban, which means the U.S. Supreme Court will have to deal with this issue—and it's the issue that could re-open the whole abortion question. That is why the abortion lobby is fighting so hard. This new decision comes from the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. Abortion rights advocates had challenged partial birth bans passed in Wisconsin and Illinois, and they argued that the laws were unnecessary because the procedure is very rare, and the laws were so vague, that they would effectively ban all late-term abortions in violation of Roe v. Wade. But the Court, to the shock of the abortion lobby, ruled last Tuesday that the ban was not unconstitutionally vague. It also noted that the American Medical Association has said that this procedure is never medically necessary. Thus, a ban poses no threat to either the life or the health of the mother. Abortion advocates are frantic, and they're appealing to the Supreme Court. Simon Heller of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy said, "We don't intend to sit idly by while these judges determine that women's health should be sacrificed." Of course, Heller was characteristically unaware of the irony in his statement. It's not the mother's health that's in danger, but the child's. The abortion-rights advocates will probably get their day in the Supreme Court. Knowing the public's strong feelings about this horrific procedure, the Supreme Court has not been anxious to address the issue, preferring to allow the lower courts to do its dirty work. But Tuesday's decision has created what lawyers call a "conflict in the circuits," and as a result, the Supreme Court will have to hear it—and I for one, couldn't be happier. For this could put the Roe v. Wade decision up for grabs. Remember, in Roe, the Court justified the abortion right on the grounds they couldn't determine when life began in the womb. But new medical technology now establishes clearly that the fetus is a human life, and indisputably this is case at the point when babies are subjected to partial birth abortion. Such evidence would clearly undercut the rationale of Rov v. Wade. Of course, much depends on who sits on the Supreme Court when this issue reaches it. That makes next year's election crucial, for two, maybe four justices are likely to be replaced in the next few years. This case, if the Supreme Court plays it straight, could reverse the pro-abortion majority in the court. Last week's Seventh Circuit decision ought to be a reminder to us that one victory may be all we need to turn the tide in the war to protect the sanctity of life.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary