.- As news of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a partial-birth abortion ban worked its way through Washington and around the country, President George W. Bush and several of the suitors for his office responded with their views on the ruling.
President Bush has strongly supported the law, which prevents doctors from partially removing a child from the womb prior to crushing its skull, since he came into office. On Wednesday the president expressed his pleasure that the Supreme Court upheld a ban on such an “abhorrent procedure.”
“Today's decision affirms that the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people's representatives enacting laws reflecting the compassion and humanity of America,” the president said.
“The partial-birth abortion ban, which an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress passed and I signed into law, represents a commitment to building a culture of life in America.”
“The Supreme Court's decision,” Bush added, “is an affirmation of the progress we have made over the past six years in protecting human dignity and upholding the sanctity of life. We will continue to work for the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law.”
That continued work depends, in large part, on who the American people elect to replace Bush. With elections just under nineteen months away, several leading candidates from both parties were asked their opinion on the ruling.
Leading candidate and former First Lady, Senator Hilary Clinton (D-NY) called the decision an “erosion of constitutional rights.” Disagreeing with the Supreme Court’s ruling that the partial-birth procedure should be considered infanticide and not abortion and thus does not affect the supposed right to an abortion, Clinton lamented that the Court had taken a “dramatic departure from four decades of Supreme Court rulings that upheld a woman's right to choose and recognized the importance of women's health.”
“It is precisely this erosion of our constitutional rights that I warned against when I opposed the nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito,” Clinton said.
Fellow candidate and former Democratic Senator John Edwards echoed Clinton’s criticism of the Supreme Court, decrying the “hard right turn” the Court has taken and adding that the decision should serve as a “stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election.”
“Too much is at stake,” Edwards said of the election, “starting with, as the Court made all too clear today, a woman’s right to choose.”
Mrs. Clinton’s top Democratic competition, Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) also voiced his disapproval of the decision. “I strongly disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling,” Obama said, “which dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women.”
Obama said that the procedure should be considered as, “a woman’s medical concern,” and should be, in fact, a “very personal decision between a doctor and patient.”
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), and current Republican front runner has not been shy about his support for abortion. Yet the Republican and social liberal announced on Wednesday that he agreed with the partial birth ban. “The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion,” Giuliani said in a statement on the 5–4 decision. “I agree with it.”
When Giuliani ran for Senate in 2000, he said he would not vote to restrict a woman’s right to undergo the procedure.
Giuliani’s top competition at present, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Arizona Senator John McCain, are both a bit more firm on life issues. Both announced their support for the ban. “Today, our nation’s highest court reaffirmed the value of life in America by upholding a ban on a practice that offends basic human decency,” Romney said. “This decision represents a step forward in protecting the weakest and most innocent among us.”
Sen. McCain hailed the decision as “a victory for those who cherish the sanctity of life and integrity of the judiciary.” The senator also emphasized the importance of electing a president in favor of “nominating and confirming strict-constructionist judges who interpret the law as it is written, and do not usurp the authority of Congress and state legislatures.”
One of the GOP’s top pro-life candidates Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) applauded the Supreme Court, “for finding that the constitution 'expresses respect for the dignity of human life,'” and expressed his hope, “that this decision signals the Court's willingness to revisit and reverse Roe v. Wade.”
“This ban was enacted to put an end to one of the most grotesque forms of abortion,” Brownback said, “and it is completely in line with the respect for life that is at the very heart of our Constitution. This is a great step forward for our nation's citizens, born and unborn.”