Ken Connor

At certain points in the decision the fetus is referred to as an "unborn child" or a baby (which makes Justice Ginsburg bristle), but at other times some of the most grisly procedures imaginable are described in cold, detached language. For example:

The woman is placed under general anesthesia or conscious sedation. The doctor, often guided by ultra-sound, inserts grasping forceps through the woman's cervix and into the uterus to grab the fetus. The doctor grips a fetal part with the forceps and pulls it back through the cervix and vagina, continuing to pull even after meeting resistance from the cervix. The friction causes the fetus to tear apart. For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix and out of the woman. The process of evacuating the fetus piece by piece continues until it has been completely removed.

One wonders about the moral state of a nation that is able to discuss so gruesome an act with such apparent disinterest. Shockingly, this act is still legal in America because it is does not fall under the definition of partial birth abortion. How could the Supreme Court possibly hold that this "procedure" is protected by the Constitution of the United States? Nevertheless, the majority opinion maintains the assumption of Casey that it is a mother's right to choose such a death for her baby.

Justice Ginsberg maintains that a woman is not truly free unless she is free to destroy the life of her unborn child. She says:

As Casey comprehended, at stake in cases challenging abortion restrictions is a woman's "control over her [own] destiny." "There was a time, not so long ago," when women were "regarded as the center of home and family life, with attendant special responsibilities that precluded full and independent legal status under the Constitution." Those views, this Court made clear in Casey, "are no longer consistent with our understanding of the family, the individual, or the Constitution." Women, it is now acknowledged, have the talent, capacity, and right "to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation." Their ability to realize their full potential, the Court recognized, is intimately connected to "their ability to control their reproductive lives."

Justice Ginsburg has a perverse view of freedom that confuses liberty with license. To say that a person can only be free if they are allowed to destroy their own children strikes at the very heart of society. A nation that has come to see new life as an unacceptable burden is a nation that has lost its humanity.

Only two judges, Scalia and Thomas, were willing to call a spade a spade. They wrote a concurring opinion indicating that they felt that the court's abortion jurisprudence has no basis in the Constitution. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito did not join them in this opinion, but that does not necessarily mean that they do not agree; they were simply not willing to show their cards just yet. Nevertheless, the inescapable fact is that unless three more judges come to agree with Scalia and Thomas, we will continue to have rampant abortion across America.

The Carhart decision ultimately begs the question: who is a person? Though it is a step forward, it is still a very small step. In the aftermath of Carhart, it is apparent that we must redouble our efforts to turn this small step into true forward progress.


Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.