Abortion is one of the most controversial topics of the American society. Even after Roe v Wade, a 1973 ruling of the Supreme Court permitting abortion, the debate has always been of topical interest. In this feature of The Economist published on the 4th of March 2006, a South Dakota's bill that would entirely ban abortion is considered. The reconstituted Supreme Court, after the nomination of John Roberts and Samuel Alito as Justices, will probably have to rule on that state decision. But the journalist rather presents this event as a symbol, and insists on the fact that other threats hang over the thirty-three-year-old abortion right. After a summary of the article, I will comment upon abortion in the USA, the role the Supreme Court has to play in this skirmish and the political consequences of a decision concerning abortion.
[...] On the 28th of February, the SC stated that pro-lifers who demonstrate outside abortion clinics cannot, I quote, deemed to be engaged in extortion or racketeering, despite their organising methods and occasional threats of violence”. Pro-lifers are people who defend life and consider abortion as a murder; so they try to prevent women from having an abortion. They are opposed to pro-choicers, who claim the woman's right to decide if she wants a child or not. Pro-lifers sometimes demonstrate outside abortion clinics or use very strong methods: they have already set fire to clinics or even killed doctors practising abortion; in 1998 in Buffalo, doctors Slepian and Press, who were the only ones in the whole area to dare to practise abortion, were murdered. [...]
[...] But, according to estimation, around 20 states would ban abortion if the SC decided to let them rule about it. And the case of South Dakota is not isolated, as seen. A lot of states ban abortion when the foetus is viable; the debate concerns the number of months of pregnancy before the foetus can be considered as viable. But they introduce a lot of controls and authorizations to try and make the process harder. Moreover, abortion is less and less payed off. [...]
[...] Indeed, the Supreme Court has a judicial review and its decisions cannot be appealed against. But it is above all a symbol of the dynamism of conservative movement in the USA. A symbol, because it's not sure that the SC will rule on this ban. (Abortion is above all a political issue) The Republicans wish they could whittle down or diminish Roe v Wade. The Democrats sometimes also want to reduce abortion rights, but they are determined to keep the basis of Roe. [...]
[...] The state's governor, Mike Rounds, opposes abortion, but he vetoed a previous ban in 2004 on the grounds that it had little chance of success in federal courts and would in the meantime put the state's other restrictions on abortion in constitutional jeopardy. Mr Rounds is now hinting that he may sign the new version, remarking that “abortion is wrong, and that we should do everything we can to save lives”. If he does sign it into law, legal battles are sure to follow. [...]
[...] In case of a pro-choice decision of the SC, the pro-life movement could be whittling down and the different states could have less scope towards abortion with a reinforced Roe v Wade. As said in the article, they “would prefer a series of cases that would gradually whittle down abortion rights”. There are partial bans in a lot of states, and such a strategy is more discreet towards the opinion in order to restrict abortion rights. This explains the point of view of many pro-lifers which may seem paradoxical: they don't bet on the South Dakota's case, which is too dangerous a stagey, but on an event of lesser mediatic importance. [...]
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