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The Progressive

Neanderthal Supreme Court Decision on Abortion

Matthew Rothschild

The religious right got its reward on April 26, when the Supreme Court banned an abortion procedure.

And the reasoning of the Bush Court was Neanderthal.

"Supreme Court justices have exchanged their black robes for white ones, never bothering to go to med school for the privilege.

The decision will jeopardize the health of some women, and it will criminalize the practice of some doctors who perform abortions. But it will not reduce abortions.

Under Roe v. Wade, a woman's health is supposed to be protected.

But this decision blithely ignored that key precedent by claiming, contrary to the conclusion of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, that there was no health concern present in the banning of the intact dilation and evacuation procedure.

"The safety advantages of intact dilatation and evacuation (intact D&E) procedures are widely recognized—in medical texts, peer-reviewed studies, clinical practice, and in mainstream, medical care in the United States," the group said in a statement denouncing the decision [1].

"This decision discounts and disregards the medical consensus that intact D&E is safest and offers significant benefits for women suffering from certain conditions that make the potential complications of non-intact D&E especially dangerous. Moreover, it diminishes the doctor-patient relationship by preventing physicians from using their clinical experience and judgment."

Supreme Court justices now purport to have greater medical expertise than the specialists in the field. They've exchanged their black robes for white ones, never bothering to go to med school for the privilege.

What's more, their decision may not prevent a single abortion. It will only change the way a small fraction of abortions are done--from safe to less safe.

If their concern was with the fetus, they haven't accomplished anything.

But betraying a huge streak of paternalism, their professed concern was with the woman's mental state were she to find out how this kind of abortion was performed.

Abortion is a difficult moral decision for women. But they are fully capable of making it, regardless of the procedure.

A woman doesn't need five men who aren't doctors to pretend to shield her, even as they deprive her of autonomy.

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive.

© 2007 The Progressive

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