Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Life of the party

The Presidential candidates are starting to comment on SCOTUS' partial birth abortion ruling today, and responses are predictable. Recovering liberal Rudy Giuliani applauds the justices 5-4 decision to uphold a federal law that bans the procedure. So does Saint John McCain. Meanwhile, Obama and Edwards warned that Roe was next.

Republicans love to run as the "party of life", yet in recent years a majority of Americans favor safe, legal abortion with some restrictions. Republicans seized on partial birth abortion because, well, the name is so gruesome. The same people who have trouble feeling sympathy with a cluster of cells no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence are sure to have an emotional attachment to a late term fetus that could, theoretically, live on its own outside the womb.

Doctors call the procedure intact dilation and extraction, or IDX. Republicans tried to ban the procedure in 1995 and again later, but couldn't overcome President Clinton's veto. Congress passed another law in 2003, which was upheld today.

Politically speaking, the ruling is probably a good thing for Democrats. IDX is hard for politicians to defend to most people, and now they won't have to. It also takes away a potent wedge issue from the Republicans, who would much rather talk about collapsed fetal craniums than the President's collapsed foreign policy.

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