Courts Continue To Chip Away At Women's Reproductive Choices

It used to be that the anti-abortion movement had to temper its religious ardor with exceptions for the health and safety of women, and the Supreme Court agreed. The partial birth abortion question, however, taught them the pretense wasn't necessary.

Today, a federal appeals court overturned a lower court ruling that said Virginia's ban on partial birth abortion was unconstitutional because it made no exception for the health of the mother. Of the 31 states that enacted bans on the procedures after the anti-abortion movement figured out it was a good way to trump the idea that a woman's health is paramount, 16 have now been upheld and 15 remain blocked.

The Virginia law mirrors the definition of "partial birth abortion" enshrined in federal law, which is to say there isn't one, making it harder on doctors (and women) to make decisions about women's health. The Guttmacher Institute explains:

In its April 2007 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, the Supreme Court upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and, in the process, set a major jurisprudential precedent. The federal law includes no health exception. Moreover, although the law does not include a precise medical definition of what is banned, the Court found the federal law's definition sufficient to pass constitutional muster.

So, basically, the government doesn't care about women's health as long as it can continue to vaguely define what procedures women can't have in order to protect said health or fertility if they're ever in need of a late term abortion. Don't you feel more protected now?

Virginia: Abortion Law Upheld [NY Times]
Bans on "Partial-Birth" Abortion [Guttmacher Institute]