The ‘peace’ activists want to run away from armed men and turn on helpless infants. These people (leftist antiwar protesters supporting abortion) are nothing but dastards.
A federal appeals court panel in Richmond, Va., on Tuesday struck down a Virginia law that made it a crime for doctors to perform what the law called “partial birth infanticide.”
In a 2-to-1 decision, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the law was more restrictive than the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which the United States Supreme Court upheld last year in Gonzales v. Carhart.
Both laws prohibited the procedure known medically as intact dilation and extraction. It involves removing an intact fetus and, typically, piercing or crushing its skull. The more common second-trimester abortion procedure, dilation and evacuation, involves dismembering the fetus in the uterus.
The key difference between the two laws, Judge M. Blane Michael wrote for the majority, was that the federal law imposes criminal charges only when doctors intend at the outset to perform the procedure, while Virginia law also made it a crime for doctors to perform the prohibited procedure by mistake.
“Unlike the federal act,” Judge Michael wrote, “the Virginia act subjects all doctors who perform” the more common procedure “to potential criminal liability, thereby imposing an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to choose.”
The Virginia law, Judge Michael wrote, imposes criminal liability on doctors who set out to perform the more common procedure “but who nonetheless accidentally deliver the fetus to an anatomical landmark and who must perform a deliberate act that causes fetal demise in order to complete removal.” The landmarks in question are passed, in the law’s words, when “the infant’s entire head” or “trunk past the navel” is “outside the body of the mother.”
Judge Michael was joined by Judge Diana Gribbon Motz. Both were appointed by President Bill Clinton.
Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, who was appointed by the first President Bush, issued a fierce dissent. “With a troubling opinion,” he wrote, “the majority now seeks to circumvent the Supreme Court’s ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart.”
“The majority’s selective use of statutory language and its rationalizations,” Judge Niemeyer wrote, “represent nothing less than a strong judicial will to overturn what the Virginia Legislature has enacted for the benefit of Virginia’s citizens and what, in materially undistinguishable terms, the Supreme Court has upheld as constitutional.”
Tuesday’s decision was the appeals court’s second encounter with the law, which it struck down on different grounds in 2005. The Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to reconsider its decision in light of Gonzales v. Carhart.
A spokesman for the state attorney general, Bob McDonnell, issued a statement suggesting that the state may seek a review of the decision from the full appeals court, which is generally conservative, or from the Supreme Court.
“We are extremely disappointed with the divided decision,” said the spokesman, J. Tucker Martin. “We are reviewing the panel opinion at this time and considering all possible courses of action.”
Stephanie Toti, a lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represented the plaintiffs in the case, a doctor and a medical center, said in a statement that the Virginia ban was extreme.
“The only way for doctors to obey this law would be to stop performing the most common second-trimester abortion methods,” Ms. Toti said.