An Inclusive Litany

7/10/00

The Supreme Court struck down part of the Violence Against Women Act. Under the law, women who are victims of crimes "motivated by gender" were able to sue their attackers in federal court under the theory that gender-motivated violence interferes with interstate commerce. (The ruling does not affect a woman's ability to sue her attacker in state court.) A previous federal law, also overturned by the court, banned guns from within 1,000 feet of any school grounds because they, too, interfered with interstate commerce.

In another decision, the court overturned Nebraska's ban on late-term "partial-birth" abortions, in which a baby's brains are vacuumed out in mid-delivery, following insertion of a pair of scissors into the base of its skull. The court insisted that an exception be made for the health of the mother, even though the procedure is never used to save a mother's life, and a 1973 law defines health so broadly as to include emotional, psychological, familial, and any other factor "relevant to the well-being of the patient." Extraordinarily, this led to the drafting of another federal law that would make it illegal to kill a baby after it has been delivered, presumably by mistake during the course of a late-term abortion. Dubbed the "Born Alive Infants Protection Act," the National Abortion Rights Action League has come out against it.

No comments: