- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2000

Abortion foes yesterday said the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Nebraska's ban on partial-birth abortion condoned "infanticide." They called the decision "appalling" and the court "barbaric."
Predictably, pro-choice leaders and lawyers cheered.
Janet Benshoof, a co-counsel in the case, said the court "exposed [partial-abortion bans] for what they are extreme and deceptive attempts to outlaw abortion, even early in pregnancy, that jeopardize women's health." Miss Benshoof is president of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, a women's rights group.
Legislators on both sides of the divisive abortion issue lined up to declare the court's ruling as "beyond the pale of any nation wishing to be known as civilized" (Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican) or upholding "women's health … over extremism" (Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat). The contested statute outlawed abortions that involved partially delivering a fetus before killing it.
In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the court declared that the Nebraska law "put an undue burden upon a woman's right to make an abortion decision."
The justices determined that the statute was vague and erred in not making an exception for abortions that physicians judged were needed to protect the mother's health.
Many of those publicly reacting to the court's ruling pointed to the fact that the decision to strike down Nebraska's law turned on a single vote. Vice President Al Gore was among them.
In the course of a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Gore referred to the "razor-thin" majority. He noted that "the next president will nominate at least three and probably four … justices to the Supreme Court. One extra vote on the wrong side … would change the outcome and a woman's right to choose would be taken away."
Mr. Gore indicated that, if elected, he would see to it that didn't happen. But he said that if Texas Gov. George W. Bush were elected, Mr. Bush would "change the court's opinion on a woman's right to choose."
Mr. Bush agreed. While campaigning in Cleveland, Mr. Bush also remarked on the "narrow margin" by which Nebraska's law was overturned and promised "to come up with a law that meets the constitutional scrutiny, and, unlike Al Gore, I pledge to fight for a ban on partial-birth abortion."
The issue came up at yesterday's presidential press conference, too. However, Mr. Clinton skirted a reporter's question about abortion rights being "at risk in the next court" that might be dominated by conservatives. "I think the court decision is clearly the only decision you could reach consistent with Roe v. Wade… . You can't have a rule, like the rule of Roe, and then ignore it," he said.
The National Women's Law Center declared in a statement, "This so-called 'partial-birth' abortion ban was a direct assault on Roe v. Wade and the Supreme Court was right to reject it. Americans support Roe because they don't want the government or politicians interfering in this most private and personal decision."
Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer exemplified the dismay and ire of pro-life proponents when he stated: "The highest court … has now said … the United States cannot ban the practice of piercing an unborn child's skull and extracting the brain… . This is not constitutional reasoning. This is a judicial rationalization for the continuation of infanticide."

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