Thursday, February 02, 2006

What is Birth?

Yesterday, Dawn Eden posted some excerpts from Judge Chester Straub's dissent in the 2nd Circuit Court's ruling that struck down the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.

Some of these excerpts strongly echo the intent of Michigan's Legal Birth Definition Act. This Michigan law, which was passed as citizen initiated legislation after Governor Granholm vetoed it, defines legal birth and the commencement of legal rights when any non-severed part of the child is outside the mother's body. It draws a line between abortion and infanticide and because it does NARAL has labeled it "one of the most extreme anti-choice laws this country has seen since Roe v. Wade was decided thirty-two years ago." Though the law never mentions partial-birth abortion, it would effectively prohibit the ghastly procedure.

In his dissent, Judge Straub notes,

"Some argue that the removal of a fetus during a D & X is not "birth." See Farmer v. Planned Parenthood of Cent. N.J., 220 F.3d 127, 143 (3d Cir. 2000). However, "birth" is the "passage of the offspring from the uterus to the outside world." Dorlands Illustrated Medical Dictionary 207 (27th ed. 2000). The removal of a fetus from its mother surgically does not mean that it is not born, as a fetus removed from its mother via a cesarean section is certainly "born....."

I disagree with Chief Judge Walker that the fact that the Act is
not limited to post-viability abortions necessarily vitiates the
compelling interest of the State in preventing the procedure to
distinguish abortion from infanticide. Once a fetus is born, its
viability ceases to be relevant to determining the constitutional
protections to which it is entitled.....

In addition to vindicating the right to life of those in the process of being born, the State has a compelling interest in protecting the line between abortion and infanticide."

The Legal Birth Definition Act was overturned by one judge but is currently working its way through the appeals process. Hopefully, they'll be a couple of judges on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals who recognize what Judge Straub recognizes.

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