>I would like to respond to the Commentary by Lawrence O. Gostin, JD, “Abortion Politics: Clinical Freedom, Trust in the Judiciary, and the Autonomy of Women.” in the Journal of the American Medical Association, October 3, 2007.(behind a pay wall)
Declaring that the Supreme Court’s consideration of the “respect for the dignity of human life” in their ruling on the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (Gonzales vs. Carhart, 2007) is “Congress’ overtly political discourse,” he neatly sums up his position in this sentence from his last paragraph:
“Morality alone is an insufficient justification for the government to intrude on the private lives of women and the clinical freedom of physicians.”
On the contrary: morality, especially the laws concerning the killing of one human being by another is the basis for all law:
“What makes killing morally wrong, then, when it is wrong, is that a human life, the one killed, is treated as a life that has little or no worth rather than as a life of incalculable worth and as one having a right to be treated accordingly. If laws were permitted to embody the idea that in some circumstances life loses its worth, or that some people lack sufficient worth to have their lives protected, individuals would no longer enjoy equal protection of the law so far as their lives are concerned. Furthermore, some principled basis for protecting human life other than its sanctity would have to be provided to justify what would constitute violations of the unquestioned worth of every individual human life.” Arthur J. Dyck When Killing is Wrong (Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press, 2001), p. 77. Emphasis mine)
However, the Court did not review the “right to abortion” in Gonzales vs. Carhart. It only ruled on the Constitutionality of the regulation of medical practice in one narrow procedure, which Gostin admits “does not save a single fetus because physicians could instead use a standard D&E method.”
Gostin objects to the Supreme Court of the United States over-ruling lower Federal courts and to State governments who dare to regulate medical practice as though he Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution so that only the Federal Judiciary decides the really, really important issues and the representatives of the People are only allowed to decide the inconsequential. He forgets or ignores that Blackburn’s 1973 Court intervened between State legislators and their rightful power to regulate the practice of medicine in Roe vs. Wade, and invented State’s rights that gradually phase in based on trimesters.
Moreover, he seems unaware of the precedent set and precedents reviewed in Washington vs Glucksberg (1997), or Vacco vs. Quill, (1997) when that Court ruled in favor of laws from Washington and New York that served to criminalize “physician assisted suicide.”
Concerning the 1993 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey ruling to which Mr. Gostin frequently refers,
“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.” (Casey, 505 U. S., at 851.)
the Court has stated,
“[A]lthough Casey recognized that many of the rights and liberties protected by the Due Process Clause sound in personal autonomy, 505 U. S., at 852, it does not follow that any and all important, intimate, and personal decisions are so protected” (Washington vs. Glucksberg, 1997)
I suggest that it’s important to share at least some perceptions about reality within the Universe. Otherwise we would not be able to discern the difference between sanity and insanity, much less between ethical and unethical medical practice.