WASHINGTON (BP)–Paul Niemeyer’s dissent in a recent federal appeals court ruling against Virginia’s ban on partial birth abortion is noteworthy not only for its refutation of the immediate decision but for his warning of the social consequences possibly inherent in it.
As a member of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Niemeyer wrote a 28-page opinion in opposition to the three-judge panel’s June 3 decision striking down the prohibition on the gruesome procedure. The two-judge majority invalidated the law because it lacked an exception to protect the health of the mother.
Calling the ruling a “bold, new law that, in essence, constitutionalizes infanticide of a most gruesome nature,” Niemeyer said it is “not compelled by the Constitution, nor by any Supreme Court case” and “amounts to a momentous step in disconnecting our law from accepted moral norms.”
“Can we not see that our discussions and the law we make in striking down Virginia’s prohibition are unfit for the laws of a people of liberty?” Niemeyer wrote. “I wonder with befuddlement, fear, and sadness, how we can so joyfully celebrate the birth of a child, so zealously protect an infant and a mother who is pregnant, so reverently wonder about how human life begins, grows, and develops, and at the same time write to strike down a law to preserve … a partially born infant. If the disconnect is explained by personal convenience, then we must reason that all morality is personal, without commonality and source. The product of such chaos is unfathomable.”
Niemeyer, nominated by the first President Bush in 1990, said overturning the law “in the name of” constitutionally protected liberty “should make us question whether we understand liberty, or if we do, whether we are tarring it with the color of political ideology that tarred the national ideals of other ages when immoral laws were imposed by ideological commands. It provides us no cover to assert vacuously that we are doing what the Supreme Court commands. The truth remains open for all to see that we are doing not what is required by law … but what we will.”
Niemeyer continued, “As it must, judicial authority finds process and reason as its supporting pillars, but reason alone applied formulaically and without regard to context can wring results that even the most carefully reasoning decisionmaker finds unacceptable. At the depths of judicial decisionmaking lies a bedrock demanding accountability to the mind’s sense of right, and this bedrock guides or perhaps even vetoes whatever absurdities reason might deliver.”
In a partial birth abortion, a doctor normally delivers an intact baby, feet first, until only the head is left in the birth canal. The doctor pierces the base of the infant’s skull with surgical scissors, then inserts a catheter into the opening and suctions out the brain. The collapse of the skull provides for easier removal of the baby’s head.
THANKS TO PRO-LIFE DEMS — Southern Baptist ethics specialist Richard Land and 25 others have expressed their gratitude to the 14 Democrats in the House of Representatives who voted against a bill to fund destructive embryonic stem cell research.
In a June 13 letter, Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and his co-signers applauded the Democrats, plus a Republican, for their “commitment to defend the voiceless by opposing [the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act]. As the debate rages on, we will be depending on you to help save these human beings in their earliest stages of development by voting in favor of promising, ethical stem cell research and against destructive stem cell research.”
The House passed the bill in a 238-194 vote May 24, with 187 Democrats, 50 Republicans and an independent favoring H.R. 810. The measure would change President Bush’s policy to fund research that uses embryos left over at in vitro fertilization clinics. The president’s rule allows funding for research only on embryonic stem cell lines already in existence prior to his August 2001 announcement of the policy. Bush has promised he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk. The House fell about 50 votes short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a veto.
The Democrats who voted against the bill were Reps. Jerry Costello of Illinois, Lincoln Davis of Tennessee, Tim Holden of Pennsylvania, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Dale Kildee of Michigan, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, Jim Marshall of Georgia, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Alan Mollohan of West Virginia, James Oberstar of Minnesota, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Bart Stupak of Michigan and Gene Taylor of Mississippi.
The letter also went to Missouri Republican Kenny Hulshof, who resisted pressure to vote for the measure.
Among those signing onto the ERLC letter with Land were Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association; D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries; Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life Committee; Paul Weyrich of Coalitions for America; Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum; Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals; Carrie Gordon Earll of Focus on the Family; Rick Scarborough of Vision America; Gary Cass of Center for Reclaiming America; and William Murray of Religious Freedom Coalition.
The House-approved measure has a Senate companion bill with 38 cosponsors.
Stem cells are the body’s master cells that can develop into other cells and tissues, providing hope for the treatment of numerous afflictions. In addition to being extracted from embryos, the cells may be found in such non-embryonic sources as bone marrow, fat and placentas, as well as umbilical cord blood.
In embryonic stem cell research, embryos in normally the first week of life are destroyed when stem cells are extracted from them. Embryonic stem cell research has failed to produce any successful therapies in human beings and has been plagued by the development of tumors in lab animals. Meanwhile, research on stem cells from non-embryonic sources has produced treatments for at least 58 ailments, according to the National Right to Life Committee. These include spinal cord injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and sickle cell anemia.
LIFE FOR LIFE –- The United States legal system again demonstrated its schizophrenia over preborn life recently in a Lufkin, Texas, courtroom.
Gerardo Flores, 19, was convicted of two counts of murder and received a life sentence June 6 for helping his girlfriend end the lives of the twins in her womb, according to the Associated Press.
Erica Basoria, Flores’ 17-year-old girlfriend, admitted she asked him to assist her in terminating her pregnancy, but prosecutors could not charge Basoria because she has a right to a legal abortion, AP reported. Basoria told police she sought Flores’ assistance after her efforts to produce a miscarriage failed, according to AP.
The defense contended it was impossible to determine who caused the deaths of the twins, since Basoria hit herself while Flores stepped on her stomach, AP reported.
A 2003 Texas law permits criminal or civil action for a death or an injury to an unborn child that could have been prevented, while the law exempts doctors who perform abortions, AP reported.