April 12, 2024

JAMA endorses pro-choice critics of partial-birth abortion

The prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association has endorsed the pro-choice critique of the US Supreme Court’s recent decision on partial-birth abortion. In a commentary article, Lawrence O. Gostin, of the Georgetown University Law Centre, says that the Court’s decision in Gonzalez v Carhart "erodes trust in the Supreme Court as an institution, undermines clinical freedom and the patient-physician relationship, and degrades public discourse on reproductive rights particularly and the role of women in society generally."

Mr Goston argues that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which was allowed by the Court, has a "chilling effect" on doctors’ freedom to practice in accordance with "sincere exercise" of clinical judgement. For the first time, he contends, the Supreme Court has validated the strategy of the "right to life" movement: that abortion is not in the best interests of women, that women are often misled about the its risks, and that the welfare of women and foetuses are the same. The Court, he says, is promoting a "new paternalism" by assuming that women are confused when seeking an abortion and that it will "cause feelings of guilt, shame, and sadness".