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Ruth Bader Ginsburg v. life and liberty

Terence P. Jeffrey on

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ought to be remembered for two things: her attacks on the right to life and her attacks on religious liberty.

In the 2000 case of Stenberg v. Carhart, the Supreme Court considered whether a state could prohibit partial-birth abortion.

What is a partial-birth abortion?

Justice Clarence Thomas answered that with clinical clarity in his dissenting opinion.

"After dilating the cervix, the physician will grab the fetus by its feet and pull the fetal body out of the uterus into the vaginal cavity," Thomas wrote.

"Assuming the physician has performed the dilation procedure correctly, the head will be held inside the uterus by the women's cervix," he said.

 

"While the fetus is stuck in this position, dangling partly out of the woman's body, and just a few inches from a completed birth, the physician uses an instrument such as a pair of scissors to tear or perforate the skull," he said.

"The physician will then either crush the skull or will use a vacuum to remove the brain and other intracranial contents from the fetal skull, collapse the fetus' head, and pull the fetus from the uterus," Thomas said.

In her own opinion, concurring in the court's judgment that it was unconstitutional for states to ban partial-birth abortion, Ginsburg did not contest Thomas's description. But she mocked what she called the "emotional uproar" the procedure caused.

"I write separately to stress that amidst all the emotional uproar caused by an abortion case, we should not lose sight of the character of Nebraska's 'partial birth abortion' law," said Ginsburg.

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