Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Victory for Women: 4th Circuit Court Strikes Down Virginia Abortion Law

Just when I was about to lose all hope that justice was going to be as rare as hen’s teeth in this country, where Indiana’s voter suppressive voter ID law was upheld by the US Supreme Court last month, now comes news that at least we can get some justice in the lower federal courts. Virginia’s unconstitutional ban on late term abortions was found to be unconstitutional by a panel of 3 federal appeals judges of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judges hearing the case were Paul Niemeyer, a 1990 Bush-41 appointee, Blane Michael, a 1993 Clinton appointee, and Diana Gribbon Motz, a Clinton 1994 appointee. Understandably, given just that bit of information, the vote was 2-1, with Niemeyer dissenting.

This case, Richmond Medical Center v. Michael Herring et al., has been bounced up and down the judicial ladder, as it were. It first came to the 4th Circuit Court in 2005 where Virginia late term abortion ban was struck down because it did not have a safeguard provision for a woman’s health. The US Supreme Court in upholding the federal ban on late-term abortions in 2007 then sent this case back to the 4th Circuit for reconsideration.

Two judges in the 4th Circuit ruling have ruled that there are sufficient differences between the federal ban and the Virginia one that the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling had no effect on the Virginia law.

“Critical to the Court’s holding in Carhart II is the federal statute’s requirement that a doctor intend at the outset to perform an intact D&E; according to the Court, this requirement of intent at the outset ensures that the federal statute does not impose criminal liability on a doctor who sets out to perform a standard D&E that by accident becomes an intact D&E. As a consequence, the federal statute does not prohibit — through fear of criminal liability — doctors from performing the standard D&E procedure, the procedure employed in the vast majority of (previability) second trimester abortions. In contrast, the Virginia Act has no provision requiring intent at the outset of the procedure. The Virginia Act thus imposes criminal liability on a doctor who sets out to perform a standard D&E that by accident becomes an intact D&E, thereby exposing all doctors who perform standard D&Es to prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment.”
They then found that since no doctor would want to be held criminally liable for performing the procedure, it places a burden on the health of women.

“The Virginia Act is therefore unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. The district court’s summary judgment, to the extent it declared the statute invalid on this ground, is affirmed.”
That’s right. A woman has a right to life, liberty and property, just as a man does. States can’t pass laws that deny them these rights, and courts shouldn’t make decisions that do so.

In all likelihood, if these intrusive monsters keep to the script, the case will probably reappear at the US Supreme Court where justices will have to go on record and uphold the Virginia ban, thus marking their territory on each and every uterus in the United States of America.

Sorry, that was kind of gross, wasn’t it?

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