Dr. Stephen A. Spaulding feels a significant step was taken with the United States Supreme Court’s recent upholding of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act — but it was only one of several needed in order for abortion to be outlawed altogether.
“My gut feeling is that it is the first chink in the armor to be overcome,” said Spaulding, who serves as president of Chemung County Right to Life. “Discussing partial-birth abortion allowed many Americans for the first time to realize how horrific abortion really is, and attitudes are now starting to change.”
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 on April 18 to uphold the ban, which President George W. Bush signed into law in 2003 although it had never taken effect due to various court challenges. Also known as “intact dilation and extraction,” partial-birth abortion involves the partial delivery of a live fetus; an incision is then made at the base of the skull through which the brain is removed. The dead body is then delivered the rest of the way.
“In partial-birth abortion the truth is very hard to hide, and people can see what abortion really is: the gory murder of a human child. The ban law was passed to prevent such murders,” said Spaulding, a parishioner of St. Mary Our Mother in Horseheads. He and his wife, Dr. Theresa A. Spaulding, are longtime family physicians in the Chemung/Schuyler area who specialize in pro-life services.
“We can only hope that the American public will realize that all other abortions are equally as gory, as inhumane, and as dehumanizing, and will take steps to end completely this terrible practice,” Spaulding added.
President Bush called partial-birth abortion an “abhorrent procedure” in an April 18 statement. He said the partial-birth abortion ban “represents a commitment to building a culture of life in America … we will continue to work for the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority; others voting in favor of the ban were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissent; others dissenting were Justices Stephen Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens. All five majority justices are Catholic; all four minority justices are non-Catholic. Spaulding observed that all the justices “pretty much voted as expected along their ideological lines. It certainly demonstrates the importance of electing people to the presidency who support traditional values and the right to life.”
Yet challenges to this landmark decision did not take long to surface: Just days later, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer released his proposed Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act. According to the New York State Catholic Conference, the legislation would, in part, nullify a conscience protection from the current law, thus forcing Catholic hospitals and other facilities licensed or funded by the state to support, cover or perform abortions.
“It is truly viciously ignorant to treat abortion as a choice, or a legitimate goal of health care, or anything other than the intentional violent ending of a human life,” Spaulding said. “We must all work very hard so that the governor’s vicious proposals, which are a threat to unborn human life, and to the health of countless women, do not become law in our state. I urge all my fellow Catholics, Christians, and people of good will to pray daily and to work diligently to prevent this legislation from succeeding.”
Spaulding has been an organizer of numerous Southern Tier pilgrimages to Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life, a protest of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in this country. He said the joy over the upholding of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act “is tempered by the realization that though thousands more children each year will now be protected from destruction by late-term abortion, over a million more people will be killed in their mother’s womb by abortion earlier in their life.”
“I do think the day will come when every child is welcomed in life and respected in law. Whether it will be in my lifetime or my children’s lifetime, I don’t know,” Spaulding added. “In the greater scheme of things, I can’t believe that mankind can continue to allow the murdering of its own children indefinitely. One way or another abortion will end, the question is how and when.”