Monday, June 30, 2008

When Is a Person a Person?

This is pulled directly from the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, No. 05-3093.

In its opposition to the motion for preliminary injunction, the State introduced portions of the Act’s legislative history1 and several affidavits. The legislative history includes testimony from several women who had obtained abortions in South Dakota and felt their decisions would have been better informed if they had received from their abortion providers the information required by § 7. In addition, the legislative history includes testimony from experts such as Marie Peeters-Ney, M.D., a physician and geneticist, explaining the scientific basis for the disclosure required by § 7(1)(b) that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Dr. Peeters-Ney testified that use of the term “human being” was accurate because:
Becoming a member of our species is conferred immediately upon conception. At the moment of conception a human being with 46 chromosomes comes into existence. These chromosomes, the organization, the chromosomal pattern is specifically human. The RNA, the messenger protein, the proteins are distinctly human proteins. So this new human being is a member of our species, and humanity is not acquired sometime along the path, it occurs right at conception.
Senate State Affairs Comm. Hearing at 25. Dr. Peeters-Ney also stated that an embryo or fetus is whole in the sense that “[a]ll the genetic information sufficient and necessary to mature, and the information that is needed for this human being’s entire life is present at the time of conception”; that it is “separate from the mother” because “[t]he genetic program is totally complete and this human being will mature according to his or her own program”; and that it is unique because it has “a totally unique genetic code.” (pg. 6)
The State’s evidence suggests that the biological sense in which the embryo or fetus is whole, separate, unique and living should be clear in context to a physician, cf. Gonzales, 127 S. Ct. at 1627 (“[B]y common understanding and scientific terminology, a fetus is a living organism while within the womb, whether or not it is viable outside the womb.”), and Planned Parenthood submitted no evidence to oppose that conclusion. (pg. 19)
Finally, this biological information about the fetus is at least as relevant to the patient’s decision to have an abortion as the gestational age of the fetus, which was deemed to be relevant in Casey. See 505 U.S. at 882. As a result, Planned Parenthood cannot meet even the less rigorous requirement to show a fair chance of prevailing, much less the more rigorous requirement applicable here to show that it is likely to prevail, on the merits of its claim that the disclosure required by § 7(1)(b) is untruthful, misleading or not relevant to the decision to have an abortion. (pg.19)

1 comment:

Joel Stephan said...

Wow. That looks pretty encouraging.