Report

Legal Backgrounder: The Supreme Court Charts a New Direction on Abortion Jurisprudence in Gonzales v. Carhart

  • June 01, 2007
  • By David Masci
On April 18, 2007, the Supreme Court handed abortion opponents a major victory, ruling that the Federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act does not violate the constitutional right to abortion. The 5-4 decision charts a new direction for the high court and its abortion jurisprudence. Just seven years earlier, the court had struck down a similar Nebraska statute.

In this latest ruling -- the result of two related cases, Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood -- the court for the first time upheld a law that bans a specific abortion method. Furthermore, the majority in Carhart and Planned Parenthood (together referred to from now on as Carhart) declared the federal statute to be constitutional even though it does not contain an explicit exception in cases in which a woman's health is in danger. This is a significant departure from earlier abortion rulings, which had required that laws restricting abortion include such a health provision.

Read the full article The Supreme Court Charts a New Direction on Abortion Jurisprudence in Gonzales v. Carhart at the Pew Research Center Web site.