Supreme Court to Hear Arguments Today in Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood

By Christine Cupaiuolo — November 8, 2006

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today in the case of Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, a challenge to the 2003 federal ban on a late-term abortion procedure. Information about the case is available at

NPR had a good report this morning by Nina Totenberg that covers the history of the case and the medical community’s response:

Indeed, even many doctors who do not do the D&X procedure still oppose the federal ban for fear that its terms are so vague that they could be construed by a prosecutor as a ban on all D&E procedures, putting doctors at risk of jail, and amounting to a ban on almost all second-trimester procedures.

As Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School, puts it, even “the standard procedure could be construed as conflicting with the law as written.”

That’s because the federal ban does not use medical terms. It uses lay terms, and it outlaws any overt action that would terminate life for a fetus once it is outside the womb to the point of the naval [sic]. So widespread is medical opposition to the law that the American Medical Association has withdrawn its initial endorsement of the statute.

The full text of the report, as well as the audio, is online.

And in today’s Washington Post, Charles Lane looks at how Supreme Court justices, particularly Justice Anthony Kennedy, are likely to respond to arguments:

As the Supreme Court prepares for today’s oral arguments on the federal “partial birth” abortion ban, both sides are focusing on the same question: “What will Kennedy do?”

Four liberal justices are considered certain votes against the law, legal analysts said, and four conservatives are expected to uphold it. The pivotal figure in the biggest Supreme Court abortion battle in half a decade is Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the 70-year-old centrist with an 18-year record of eclecticism on abortion and other social issues.

Continue reading the WP story here.

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