8133 – A Matter of Life and Birth


Partial birth abortion is clearly on the way out.  This case involved the Virginia law that bans what it terms “partial birth infanticide.”  The law makes it a felony to kill a human infant whose been born alive, which is defined as having been completely or substantially expelled or extracted from its mother.  The law is aimed at what’s known as the D&E procedure which stands for “intact dilation and evacuation” in which an abortion provider crushes the fetal skull of an intact fetus.  In very rare circumstances, the fetus’s head becomes lodged in the mother’s cervix and it’s necessary to end the fetus’s life in order to save the life of the mother.  The statute had been declared unconstitutional on the basis that it could prevent a doctor from saving a mother’s life, but the full bench of the Court of Appeals has reversed all earlier decisions and upheld the law.  The Court said to hold an entire law unconstitutional because of a very rare event is not appropriate and a physician can always take any action necessary to save a mother’s life. So it’s a tow hold, but for the moment, partial birth abortion has been aborted.


Richmond Medical Center for Women vs. Herring,  U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 6-24-2009