The Supreme Court ruled against the constitutional law that defined certain forms of abortion as illegal, thereby, legalizing them in this 2000 landmark case (Baldwin, 1). “Partial birth” is a form of abortion where a physician delivers a fetus vaginally before killing it, or the intentional vaginal delivery of a live unborn before killing the fetus, according to the statute. However, the Nebraska law defines partial birth a set of procedures employed by a physician to perform third trimester abortions. The case involved a specialist physician in late abortions, Leroy Carhart against the Attorney general of Nebraska seeking to reverse the statute against partial birth citing the unconstitutionality.
According to Court Cases/Stenberg v. Carhart (Carhart I), Dr. Carhart sought a judgment that would save his practice of performing late abortions with the aim of saving the mother’s life by use of dilatation and extraction method. The federal court ruled in favor of the doctor in respect to women’s rights violation citing previous cases such as the Roe versus Wade, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the law that prohibited abortions except if it is to save the mother’s life was unconstitutional (Cromwell et al, 49).
Justice Stephen Breyer ruled in in 5-4 decision in favor of the doctor and ruled that the ban on the practice was against the constitution. The Supreme Court reasoned that the Nebraska statute was in contravention to the provisions of the ruling that had been pronounced in the Casey Versus Planned parenthood case in which the court ruled against the state banning most abortions.
Justice Kennedy Anthony dissented arguing that the Nebraska law was in complete contravention of the Planned Parenthood v. Casey. He referred to the ruling as a misunderstanding to the previous court ruling in favor of Casey.
Baldwin (1) writes that Justice Thomas Clarence also dissented stating that the constitution did not contain abortion as a right and criticized the majority for their opinions. Justices Antonin Scalia and William Rehnquist also claimed that abortion was not a right protected by the constitution citing that the constitution did not mention the aspect of privacy. Thomas referred to the American Medical Association having defined partial birth as completely different from other methods of abortion.
Scalia Antonin referred to the idea of value judgment as in the Casey v. Planned Parenthood claiming it is the undue burden in birth that is the judgment. He supported the ruling claiming that it was an appropriate understanding and application of the Casey ruling, but he questioned the logic in the Casey terming the undue burden as illegitimate (Hudson, 107). The 5-4 majority led to striking down the Nebraska ruling.
Baldwin, Roger . "Because Freedom Cant Protect Itself." American Civil Liberties Union. Version 1. American Civil Liberties Union, 1 July 2000. Web. 7 Dec. 2013. <https://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/stenberg-v-carhart-legal-analysis>.
"COURT CASES/Stenberg v. Carhart (Carhart I)." National Abortion Federation: Stenberg v. Carhart. Version 1. National Abortion Federation, 5 June 2010. Web. 7 Dec. 2013. <http://www.prochoice.org/policy/courts/stenberg_v_carhart.html>.
Cromwell, Gerald, Gunther William Nelson, and Gerhard Casper. "THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE DECISION." Landmark briefs and arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States: constitutional law ; Stenberg v. Carhart (2000). Bethesda, Md.: Univ. Publ. of America, 2001. 48. Print.
Hudson, David L.. The handy law answer book. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink Press, 2010. Print.