Saturday, April 21, 2007
The Supreme Court-against medical opinion
The U.S. Supreme Court has put the health of women at risk with their 5 to 4 decision to uphold a congressional decision banning intact dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion this week. Despite the fact that there is clear medical consensus that intact D&E is safer than alternative procedures for the mother in certain circumstances, the Supreme Court overruled six Federal courts that said the 2003 Federal law is an "impermissible restriction on a woman's constitutional rights".
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest body to review legislative findings and they need to be especially thoughtful when fundamental constitutional rights are restricted. Every Federal Court that reviewed the 2003 law found it to be "unbalanced, unreasonable and not factual."
It is important to note that this decision does not affect Roe v. Wade. Ninety percent of all abortions still occur within the first 12 weeks and are not affected by this decision. But they have banned a procedure that medical experts testified is safer than other means of ending pregnancy at times when the mother's health is at risk. Intact D&E is used in women with heart disease, bleeding disorders, compromised immune systems, placentia previa and accretia and for fetuses with certain anomalies like severe hydrocephalus. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) testified that intact D&E is "necessary and proper in certain cases."
I have had a few patients and one friend who were faced with the tragedy of a medical situation that was not known until the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. The grief and impact of terminating a dangerous pregnancy is now compounded when the procedure the physician chooses as the safest for the mother's health is not allowed. Her future reproductive ability can be affected as well if something goes wrong (bleeding, infection).
The debate about abortion will continue to be waged in this Country. Both sides are passionate with their beliefs and there is a wide impasse. Our forefathers were clear in their separation of church and state and our Supreme Court has crossed the line by imposing personal morality as a basis for constitutional intrusion.
Your comments are welcome.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 2:43 PM