A battle rejoined

For more information about the court decision and activism to support reproductive rights, go to now.org/issues/abortion.

Since when are the U.S. Supreme Court justices qualified to act as doctors? How do they presume to know what’s best for patients? When did their wisdom on medical matters exceed that of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists?

These are questions that have been percolating this last month since the court’s awful decision to uphold the federal ban on a second-trimester abortion procedure commonly (but incorrectly) labeled partial-birth abortion.

For the first time since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, the court has intervened directly into the examination room and decreed what medical procedure cannot be used, regardless of a physician’s best judgment.

This is a presumptuous, even arrogant, position to take and a reversal of venerable precedent. It will do direct harm to women for whom carrying a pregnancy to term would be dangerous, and it will encourage those who seek to ban abortion altogether while steeling the resolve of those who support the privacy rights validated by Roe v. Wade. The abortion wars, long in uneasy détente, have been rejoined, thanks to the court’s unsound decision.