The State's Interest in Life

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

 
  4/9/2007
 

Today the Supreme Court upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion that was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2003. This is a day of historic progress for the pro-life cause, whose ultimate goal is to restore protection to every unborn child, at every stage of development. Today, for the first time since Roe vs. Wade, the United States of America has actually banned an abortion procedure, rather than just regulated it.

The pro-abortion forces attempted to strike down the ban because it does not have a health exception. The Court, however, said that the ban’s opponents failed to demonstrate that the need for a health exception was extensive enough to render the law unconstitutional. The Court also rejected the arguments that the ban is too broad or too vague. The wording of the ban is clear enough for abortionists to know when they are and are not violating the law.

The decision in this case is refreshing to read, because it emphasizes that the state has a legitimate interest in the life of the unborn child throughout pregnancy. Nor is this the first time the Court has recognized this interest. The decision refers to the state’s right to “express profound respect for the life of the unborn,” and affirms “that the government has a legitimate, substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life.” The partial-birth abortion procedure differs from other abortion procedures in that it actually hijacks the delivery process and turns it into a method of killing, and hence obscures the role of the physician in the birth process. The Court today reaffirmed the state’s “legitimate interest in regulating the medical profession in order to promote respect for life, including life of the unborn.” The decision also asserts, “The State has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed.” In reaffirming these legitimate state interests in defense of the partial-birth abortion ban, the Court is also pointing the way for continued pro-life legislative activity at the state and federal level.

Today’s decision also reminds us that elections matter. The work done by so many pro-life people in the elections of 2000, 2002, and 2004 made this decision possible. The lawmakers who passed the ban were elected, as was the President who signed it into law. The Senators who confirmed the two new Supreme Court Justices were elected, as was the President who nominated those Justices. Today’s fruit of these elections should lead us to renew our commitment to elect pro-life candidates in 2008.

As we give thanks for the ban on partial-birth abortion, we call for a vigorous and faithful enforcement of it. Moreover, state bans on the procedure should likewise be put into effect in a manner consistent with the federal ban upheld by today’s decision.

This decision draws a significant and necessary line that stops the momentum of the abortion movement that believes it can justify any and every method of killing the unborn. The ban will indeed save lives.