Abortion debate takes center stage after Supreme Court decision

Jackie Valley

Ohio could push for new laws after last week’s ruling

Last week, the Supreme Court ended a four-year debate about the constitutionality of the 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act by upholding it in a 5-4 ruling led by the court’s conservative majority.

But now, the question remains whether states will seek to impose further restrictions on a woman’s right to choose in the wake of the decision to ban the partial birth abortion procedure.

According to the Associated Press, in the Supreme Court’s first ruling on abortion since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that granted women the right to an abortion, the court said “the Partial Birth Abortion Act that Congress passed and President (George W.) Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.”

In addition, the AP reported the law bans doctors from performing the procedure, which involves removing an intact fetus from a woman’s uterus and crushing or cutting the skull to complete the abortion. If in violation, doctors could face up to two years in federal prison.

However, Mary O’Shea, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Greater Cleveland, said the Supreme Court’s decision opens the door for states to introduce legislation to ban other abortion methods.

For example, O’Shea pointed toward Republican Rep. Tom Brinkman, of Cincinnati, who introduced a bill in the Ohio General Assembly to ban all abortions in 2005.

“We expect him to reintroduce that bill this year,” she said.

Speaking to the AP, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, Republican leader in the House of Representatives, said, “I applaud the Court for its ruling today, and my hope is that it sets the stage for further progress in the fight to ensure our nation’s laws respect the sanctity of unborn human life.”

O’Shea said the ban on partial birth abortions sends the message that women’s health is secondary to politics.

“What the court said is if a doctor thinks that a procedure is best for a womans health, the state may overrule them,” she said.

Amanda Namenek, sophomore hospitality management major, said she thinks the government is overstepping its boundaries with legislation banning certain abortion procedures.

“I just don’t think it’s a 50-year-old man in Congress’ decision to decide what is best for a woman,” she said, adding she supports women’s right to choose.

However, Amanda Meeker, sophomore fine arts major, said she believes human life is more important than personal freedom.

“It’s always scary when the government says you can or cannot do something, but I’m willing to forfeit those rights for the rights of the unborn child,” she said. “I think human life is more valuable than political rights.”

Ben Starett, sophomore theater design and technology major, said he also supports the Supreme Court’s ruling on partial birth abortions.

“Life begins at conception,” he said. “Abortion of any type is murder.”

But sophomore hospitality major Sarah Nemanic said the ruling does not take into account women’s health and personal situations.

“I know it’s not always fair to the baby, but sometimes it could be worse if they have the baby,” she said.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which focuses on sexual and reproductive health research, about one percent of all abortions in the United States were performed by the dilation and extraction method.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to ban partial birth abortions, O’Shea said the law will “go into effect after a brief waiting period, allowing providers to comply with the law.”

Contact student politics reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].