What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

The video for this story is not available, but you can still read the transcript below.
No image

Supreme Court Upholds Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday narrowly upheld a ban on the procedure known as partial-birth abortion. Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal discusses the implications of the 5-4 decision.

Read the Full Transcript

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    At issue in today's ruling was the federal law banning a controversial medical procedure often referred to as partial-birth abortion. Congress approved the ban, and President Bush signed it into law in 2003, only to have lower courts in California, Nebraska and New York determine it was unconstitutional.

    Today, the Supreme Court weighed in, with a majority of five justices, led by Anthony Kennedy, stating that the ban on the procedure, which doctors call intact dilation and extraction, did not create an undue burden on a woman's right to an abortion.

    Joining us to discuss the decision and its implications is NewsHour regular Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal. Marcia, it's good to have you with us.

  • MARCIA COYLE, National Law Journal:

    Thanks, Judy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    First of all, let me ask you to define this procedure at issue. We know the opponents call it partial-birth abortion. We're told in the medical community it's referred to as intact dilation and extraction.

  • MARCIA COYLE:

    Well, first of all, it's not a very common procedure, and it's used primarily in second-trimester abortions. It's the removal of the fetus by forceps through the cervix as intact as possible in order to minimize tissue retention and trauma to the cervix and the uterus.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And, again, as you say, not a common procedure…

  • MARCIA COYLE:

    Right, the more standard procedure is known as dilation and evacuation. And there, the fetus is removed with forceps and a vacuum and generally comes out in pieces.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now, the Congress, as we just said, passed this law in 2003 to ban the procedure.

  • MARCIA COYLE:

    Correct.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The challengers came along, questioned the constitutionality. And today the Supreme Court, 5-4 ruling, said it is constitutional. They upheld it.

  • MARCIA COYLE:

    Yes, they did.

The Latest