Pro-life advocates and Christian groups nationwide are reacting strongly to a liberal San Francisco federal judge's declaration that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (PABA) signed into law in November but tied up in court ever since is unconstitutional. Federal Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled last Tuesday that a woman's right to have an abortion is paramount, and that it's “irrelevant” whether the unborn child suffers pain in the process.
In handing down her decision in Planned Parenthood Federation of America v. Ashcroft, Hamilton a Bill Clinton appointee said PABA poses an “undue burden” on a woman's ability to choose a second trimester abortion, is “unconstitutionally vague,” and requires a health exception as set forth in an earlier Supreme Court decision. On those bases, the judge ruled that U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft and his successors cannot enforce the law on Planned Parenthood's facilities or on the abortionists, whether working at the agency's facilities or on a referral basis.
According to Associated Press, Planned Parenthood's doctors and clinics perform about half of the 1.3 million abortions done each year in the United States.
Two similar challenges to PABA, one in New York and one in Nebraska, have yet to be decided. The Justice Department says it “will continue to devote all resources necessary to defend” the ban, which may ultimately be upheld or struck down by the Supreme Court.
Planned Parenthood Pleased
As expected, Planned Parenthood Federation of American (PPFA) is pleased with Hamilton's ruling in the case. An attorney for PPFA says the ruling sends a strong message to the Bush Administration that the government should not intrude on such “sensitive and private medical decisions.” Gloria Feldt, PPFA president, describes it as a “landmark victory” for medical privacy rights and women's health.
“The Ashcroft Department of Justice can no longer threaten Planned Parenthood doctors with the daunting specter of criminal prosecution for putting their patients first,” Feldt says in a press release, adding that the White House, in a “zealous pursuit” of the ban, has tried to “appease anti-choice extremists and fulfill an ideological agenda.”
But defenders of the unborn across the country disagree, recalling a statement by President George W. Bush as he signed the legislation into law on November 5, 2003: “For years, a terrible form of violence has been directed against children who are inches from birth, while the law looked the other way. Today, at last, the American people and our government have confronted the violence and come to the defense of the innocent child.”
Hamilton Demonstrating “Judicial Activism”
Several pro-life advocates see an activist judge behind the Tuesday ruling. Dr. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries in Florida says Hamilton's ruling “puts the stamp of constitutionality on infanticide.”
“Judge Hamilton's callous disregard for human suffering is contemptible and an indicator…of how Roe and subsequent rulings are driving our courts and culture back to barbarism,” Kennedy says in a printed statement, in which he describes the judge's ruling as “disturbing and deplorable.”
Both the National Right to Life Committee and Concerned Women for America note Hamilton's predisposition to a pro-abortion ruling. The NRLC says the judge's “deep personal hostility” to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was evident throughout the judicial proceedings. CWA's Wendy Wright echoes that, pointing out Hamilton refused to allow “key, relevant testimony such as the pain felt by unborn babies and records that could prove partial-birth abortions are never medically necessary.”
Last month, legislation was introduced in Congress by Senator Sam Brownback and Congressman Chris Smith that focuses on the pain experienced by unborn children during an abortion. The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act would require that abortionists inform women of the pain their unborn children are capable of experiencing and of the availability of pain-reducing drugs for the child.
Christian Coalition of America says Hamilton is a “left-wing, federal tyrant” whose ruling demonstrates that “judicial tyranny … continues unabated in this country.” According to Christian Coalition president Roberta Combs, Hamilton is the same judge who has ruled in favor of allowing homosexual couples to use an Internet-based adoption service, and permitting a local school district to force children into “becoming Muslim” for two weeks as part of a world history unit on Islam.
No Surprise, Says American Life League
And like those other pro-life advocates, the largest pro-life lobby in America sees the ruling as yet another example of an activist judge going against the will of elected officials in order to facilitate the abortion of innocent babies. Joe Giganti of American Life League calls the ruling “judicial activism.”
“Once again we have our courts affirming legalized murder, which can never be acceptable,” Giganti says. But ALL's director of media and government relations is not surprised, saying it is the same old story. “It's not a surprise that we have a judicial activist telling us that a woman has a right to murder her own child because that's what we've been told for the past three decades,” he explains.
But in Giganti's opinion, the ban on partial-birth abortions did not go far enough in the first place. “The fact of the matter is American Life League did not support the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act as it was written because it contained exceptions and we are a no-exception organization,” he says.
ALL, he says, believes every human being's life is sacred and that there can be no differentiation between those that are and those that are not. “We saw with the flawed nature that went into [the PABA], it was going to bear the bad fruit that we're seeing not just because of the judicial activism, but because there seemed to be a lack of true will to continue to fight,” he says. “We hope that they will continue to fight for it.”
Giganti says he is optimistic that the PABA challenge in New York will go the other way and force the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Both sides apparently are prepared to go the distance. As NRLC's Douglas Johnson puts it: “It is the U.S. Supreme Court that will ultimately decide whether our elected representatives can ban the practice of mostly delivering a living premature infant and then puncturing her skull.”
(This article courtesy of Agape Press).