Ethic Involved in the Partial Birth Abortion Issues

When a pregnant woman learns that her baby is dying inside her, and that might put her own live in the balance, even though that discovery wasn't made until her 8th month of pregnancy, is it ethical or moral for her to have an abortion? On the other hand, does the government (state, federal, regional or local) have the moral authority to tell the pregnant woman she can't have a late-term abortion even though she may die if she doesn't have that abortion? These issues and other relative to partial-birth (or late-term) abortions will be reviewed and critiqued in this paper. Both sides of the issue will be presented.

What was the Decision Scenario ethical problem in this case?

Tammy Watts learned during her eighth month of pregnancy that her baby had trisomy 13, which is an abnormality in the chromosomal make up "that causes severe deformities" with no hope the child will be alive when it is born. Technically the procedure she asked to have performed was "intact dilation and extraction"; also known as the partial-birth abortion procedure. Watts and other women that had partial-birth abortions due to life-and-death matters testified before Congress that they may have died if they had not gone through with the late term abortion. One of the women who testified was Vikki Stella, who stated that "No women have these procedures for trivial reasons… they have them because it's their own choice."

What was the Supreme Court's decision against partial-birth abortions based on?

According to Professor Tim O'Brien (from Nova Southeastern University Law School) "The Court did acknowledge that women have a constitutional right to choose abortion," but the Court also asserted that the government "has a legitimate interest in protecting potential human life," O'Brien told Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) anchor Bob Abernethy. Abernethy reminded O'Brien that the five justices in the majority are Roman Catholic; he asked O'Brien what the justices would say if they were asked about their religious ethics vis-a-vis this abortion issue. O'Brien replied, "I'm sure they would say that religion had nothing to do with it" that they were simply interpreting the Constitution. The reason many pro-choice leaders were upset with the Court's 2007 decision against partial-birth abortions is that a few years ago they "rejected a similar ban" on a 5-4 vote. Of course, what O'Brien didn't say was that in the interim, George W. Bush appointed to conservatives to the High Court as two other justices retired.

What are the competing ethical issues in this matter?

Opposition to the Court's ethics: The court case in question was Gonzales vs. Carhart, 2007 and it was for all to see a purely political statement by the five Republicans (who also happen to be Roman Catholics) who represent the majority on the High Court G.W. Bush, who was elected on the strength of a huge number of conservative Christians, placed two of the five majority members there, both (Catholics and Republicans) find abortion in any form contemptible.

Meantime, the editorial writer in writes that "Morality alone is an insufficient justification for the government to intrude on the private lives of women and the clinical freedom of physicians" (, 2007). The writer goes on to say the Court did…