The Plank

Court Upholds Abortion Ban

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The Supreme Court upholds the ban on so-called "partial-birth abortions." Here's the decision. Anthony Kennedy turns out not to be the closet liberal many conservatives feared. Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets at the import of this: "For the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception protecting a woman's health."

For more context, read this earlier piece by Scott Lemieux. The Court has, in the end, upheld a vague and arbitrary ban--as Richard Posner has pointed out, the only difference between D&X and other procedures still allowed depends on "which way the fetus's feet are pointing"--and hence, gives legislatures plenty of leeway to continue to chip away at abortion rights. Also, as I understand it, Kennedy's ruling that the law could not be challenged facially--it would have to be contested by a plaintiff who could show that it caused her specific harm--could, potentially, make it much harder to challenge future anti-abortion laws in the courts (especially for poorer women most likely to be affected by such restrictions).

Update: I'm curious to know if anyone will still argue that John Roberts and Samuel Alito are "moderates" who will practice restraint and all that. (Or that this decision is less sweeping than, say, Ginsberg fears.) I guess the best that can be said about them is that they didn't sign onto this.

--Bradford Plumer

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