Who is Qualified to Speak on Abortion?

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In the Supreme Court's 2007 Gonzales v Carhart decision, the court ruled that Congress can ban a particular abortion procedure, called Partial Birth Abortion or Intact D&E. In Congress's original deliberations on the subject, and in the Court's review of the law, an important element was the testimony of medical experts.

Justice Ginsburg, one of the judges who disagreed with the court's decision, wrote:

... the physicians who testified that intact D&E is never necessary to preserve the health of a woman had slim authority for their opinions. They had no training for, or personal experience with, the intact D&E procedure, and many performed abortions only on rare occasions.

That is, these doctors were not qualified to testify about abortion because they did not perform the particular abortion procedure that Congress was considering banning; in some cases they performed few abortions at all.

What an interesting standard: The only people who are qualified to testify about something that the government is planning to make illegal are people who are actively engaged in doing it! So, say, when Congress is considering laws against pollution, only owners of polluting factories should be considered qualified to testify. When Congress is discussing laws against corruption, only politicians who have themselves accepted bribes are eligible to debate it. When Congress is debating laws against racism, only active Klan members have anything relevant to say.

Funny how when the subject is abortion, normal rules of law and common sense no longer apply.

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25 Apr 2007.

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