President Bush’s appointments to the US Supreme Court yielded fruit for conservatives yesterday as justices voted 5-4 in favour of outlawing late-term “partial birth” abortions.
The ruling declared that the legislation, signed by Mr Bush in 2003, did not violate a woman’s constitutional right to abortion. It will encourage religious conservatives — who hope to chip away at the Roe v Wade decision in 1973 that legalised abortion across America — as well as efforts at state level to place more restrictions on the procedure.
“In upholding the will of the people in this matter the majority has laid the first blow to Roe v Wade and its putrefying spawn,” said Paul Schenck, of the National Pro-life Action Centre yesterday. “We applaud the court’s resolve to end this despicable practice,” In 2000 the court struck down a ban on the so-called partial-birth abortions because it did not include an exemption when a woman’s health might be affected.
In reversing that ruling yesterday both of Mr Bush’s recent appointments to the court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, sided with the majority.
The decision promises to bring the issue of abortion, on which Democrats and Republicans are divided on more or less party lines, sharply back into political focus before the 2008 presidential elections.
Conservatives believe that they need one more appointment to the Supreme Court to tip the balance decisively in their favour.