Tuesday, January 24, 2006

SD Legislature To Consider Abortion Ban

In the next six weeks, South Dakota lawmakers will decide whether to make abortion a crime.

A bill that would ban abortion in the state will be introduced within the next two days.

The bill will be called the Woman's Health and Life Protection Act. It will ban abortion, but won't prosecute a doctor who performs one to save a woman's life.

And the lawmaker who's introducing the bill says he thinks now is the right time to try and over-turn Roe vs Wade.

Rep. Roger Hunt says, "Abortion should be banned."

Those four words will likely lead to many others in the South Dakota House and Senate as lawmakers will decide whether to criminalize abortion in the state. The bill's supporters are using findings from a controversial abortion task force report recently given to the legislature.

Hunt says, "DNA testing now can establish the unborn child has a separate and distinct personality from the mother. We know a lot more about post-abortion harm to the mother."

The legislature debated a similar bill two years ago, but Governor Mike Rounds vetoed it because of concerns over some technicalities.

Hunt says, "We have made those corrections to the bill."

Sunday, Hunt and other anti-abortion advocates held an event promoting their legislation. They say now is the time to pass it, because other states are considering similar bills and because with new Chief Justice John Roberts, and possibly Samuel Alito, the US Supreme Court is changing.

Hunt says, "Two very solid, we feel, pro-life candidates. Again you never know but based on their testimony to the senate we feel they're good candidates."

Hunt says he thinks enough other lawmakers support the bill for it to pass, but he still thinks the decision will be a close one.

He says, "I learned a long time ago the only time you really count the votes is when you're taking the votes."

Hunt will also introduce two other bills this week. One is meant to ensure doctors explain the risks of an abortion to a woman is writing. The other deals with sex education and says school districts need to include principles in their curriculums dealing with abstinence and personal responsibilities.

For the entire text of South Dakota law which will force the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade, CLICK HERE

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Supreme Court Affirms N.H. Abortion Law

Jan 18 12:11 PM US/Eastern

Associated Press Writer


The Supreme Court steered clear of a major ruling on abortion Wednesday, instead giving New Hampshire a chance to save its parental notification law.

Justices, in a rare unanimous abortion ruling, agreed that the New Hampshire law could make it too hard for some ill minors to get an abortion, but at the same time they were hesitant about stepping in to fix the 2003 statute. They told a lower court to reconsider whether the entire law is unconstitutional.

"Making distinctions in a murky constitutional context, or where line- drawing is inherently complex, may call for a `far more serious invasion of the legislative domain' than we ought to undertake," retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the court.

The New Hampshire case had been expected to be much closer at the high court.

Instead, justices found consensus on narrow grounds, that a lower court went too far by permanently blocking the law that requires a parent to be told before a minor daughter ends her pregnancy.

Civil rights groups predicted that the appeals court would again strike down the law.

"It tells politicians that they must include protections for women's health and safety when they pass abortion laws," said Jennifer Dalven, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

O'Connor, a key swing voter at the court on abortion rights, last year announced plans to retire and she will step down soon if the Senate confirms nominee Samuel Alito.

Alito was questioned extensively last week during his Senate confirmation hearing about his views on abortion, including the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that declared abortion a fundamental constitutional right. He steadfastly refused to agree with assertions by Democrats that Roe v. Wade is "settled law."

O'Connor, who supports Roe, made clear that the court was not going to break new ground in what may be her final days on the bench. "We do not revisit our abortion precedents today," she wrote in the opening of the brief opinion.

David Garrow, a Supreme Court historian at Cambridge University, said the decision "can be read as another step toward a long-term middle- ground truce, or at least stalemate."

The case returns to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which had ruled that the law was unconstitutional. The statute requires that a parent be informed 48 hours before a minor child has an abortion but makes no exception for a medical emergency that threatens the youth's health.

Phyllis Woods, a former state representative from Dover, N.H., who was a main sponsor of the bill, said she was pleased by the ruling but concerned that the appeals court might require a broad health exception. "Our concern has always been that a blanket health exception opens the door and really negates the whole purpose of the bill," Woods said.

New Hampshire's appeal gave the court a chance to clarify when laws pose an "undue burden" on a woman in choosing to end a pregnancy. O'Connor is an architect of the undue burden standard, and was the deciding vote in the last abortion case in 2000, when the justices ruled that a Nebraska law banning a type of late-term abortion was too burdensome. That law did not have an exception to protect the mother's health.

Justices did not deal directly with that question, although O'Connor wrote: "under our cases it would be unconstitutional to apply the act in a manner that subjects minors to significant health risks."

"In the case that is before us ... the lower courts need not have invalidated the law wholesale," O'Connor wrote. "Only a few applications of New Hampshire's parental notification statute would present a constitutional problem."

The opinion, just 10 pages, was a partial victory for New Hampshire in a case that had been closely watched by other states with restrictions. Justices had been told that 24 states mandate a parent's approval and 19, including New Hampshire, demand parental notice.

Another major case awaiting justices is the Bush administration's appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down a federal ban on a late-term procedure that critics call "partial birth" abortions. The federal law has no health exception.

The case is Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood, 04-1144.

Monday, January 09, 2006

India 'loses 10m female births'

More than 10m female births in India may have been lost to abortion and sex selection in the past 20 years, according to medical research.

The sex ratio is so skewed in some states, men cannot find brides

Researchers in India and Canada for the Lancet journal said prenatal selection and selective abortion was causing the loss of 500,000 girls a year.

Their research was based on a national survey of 1.1m households in 1998.

The researchers said the "girl deficit" was more common among educated women but did not vary according to religion.

The unusual gender balance in India has been known about for some time.

In most countries, women slightly outnumber men, but separate research for the year 2001 showed that for every 1,000 male babies born in India, there were just 933 girls.


The latest research is by Prabhat Jha of St Michael's Hospital at the University of Toronto, Canada, and Rajesh Kumar of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Research in Chandigarh, India.

They found that there was an increasing tendency to select boys when previous children had been girls.

n cases where the preceding child was a girl, the ratio of girls to boys in the next birth was 759 to 1,000.

This fell even further when the two preceding children were both girls. Then the ratio for the third child born was just 719 girls to 1,000 boys.

However, for a child following the birth of a male child, the gender ratio was roughly equal.

Prabhat Jha said conservative estimates in the research suggested half a million girls were being lost each year.

"If this practice has been common for most of the past two decades since access to ultrasound became widespread, then a figure of 10m missing female births would not be unreasonable."


Sex selective abortions have been banned in India for more than a decade.

Experts in India say female foeticide is mostly linked to socio-economic factors.

It is an idea that many say carries over from the time India was a predominantly agrarian society where boys were considered an extra pair of hands on the farm.

The girl child has traditionally been considered inferior and a liability - a bride's dowry can cripple a poor family financially.

The BBC's Jill McGivering says the problem is complicated by advances in technology. Ultrasound machines must be officially registered but many are now so light and portable, they are hard to monitor.

Although doctors in India must not tell couples the sex of a foetus, in practice, some just use coded signals instead, our correspondent says.

Last year the well-known religious leader and social activist, Swami Agnivesh, began a campaign across five northern and western states against female foeticide.

"There's no other form of violence that's more painful, more abhorrent, more shameful," he said.