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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

April-26-00

Both Sides Demonstrate As Supreme Court Hears Abortion Case

Both pro-choice and anti-abortion groups demonstrated as the Supreme Court of the United States heard a landmark abortion case determining whether a Nebraska law banning abortion procedure(s) was constitutional. At issue before the Supreme Court was only pre-viability procedures and not late-term procedures.

Simon Heller of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy argued the case brilliantly for the pro-choice side.

The Justices, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, indicated by their questions that the Nebraska law at issue was too vague and broad.

Nebraska's so-called "partial-birth abortion" ban offers no exceptions in cases where women's life and health may be at stake, and would also impose a frightening criminal penalty on doctors of up to 20 years in prison for performing so-called "partial birth" abortions.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg emphasized that the court's precedents in abortion regulation recognized the women's health and potential life of the fetus, and that "Whatever this ban does, it surely can't be urged that it serves either."

The Justices may rule that a state can make it a crime to use a specific method of abortion, thus leaving the potential for the 30 states who have similarly-worded bans to amend their laws. Such a decision would badly damage Roe v. Wade and endanger women's lives and health.

This case marks the first time the United States government has issued an amicus brief on the side of abortion and is the first case address restrictions on abortions themselves before the court in eight years.

Anti-abortion demonstrators outside the Supreme Court, including Patrick Mahoney, Joseph Foreman and some 23 others were arrested because they refused to take down very large anti-abortion signs after warnings. The police had allowed the signs for most of the morning and for press opportunities but eventually ordered they be removed.

The Feminist Majority Foundation participated in a rally held by the National Organization for Women on the steps of the Supreme Court during the arguments. Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Janet Benshoof, executive director of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy also attended.

Media Resources: The New York Times - 26 April, 2000, and Feminist Majority Foundation


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