ABORTION: Supreme Court Accepts Nebraska Case
The U.S. Supreme Court Friday agreed to review a Nebraska ban on "partial birth" abortion to determine if the state law is constitutional, the Washington Post reports. The decision to hear the case marks the first time since 1992 that the panel will address the "emotionally charged" abortion issue and is sure to push it to the "political forefront" of the 2000 presidential campaign. The Nebraska ban was struck down last September by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled the law was too broad and placed an "undue burden" on women seeking abortions. Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg (R) argued in his appeal to the high court, however, that "[i]f a state cannot ban the partial-birth/D&X procedure, there is effectively no limit on abortion at all" (Biskupic, Washington Post, 1/15). In their order granting the appeal, the justices indicated that they would only consider this partial-birth question and "were not interested in revisiting the basic question the constitutional status of abortion" (Greenhouse, New York Times, 1/15). The court will hear arguments in April, with a decision expected by June (Washington Post, 1/15).
Reaction to the court's announcement was swift.
- Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League: "The Supreme Court holds in its hands the safety and dignity of women's reproductive freedom and choice. Hearing this case underscores again the importance of the 2000 presidential elections" (NARAL release, 1/14).
- Janet Parshall, chief spokesperson for the Family Research Council: "The court of public opinion has already ruled on partial-birth abortion, and it is time for the Supreme Court to uphold, not thwart, the will of the American people. Truth, the Constitution and human decency will triumph if the court exercises its independence from the abortion lobby" (FRC release, 1/14).