Alito Vote Crucial in Abortion Decision

The justice who replaced Sandra Day O’Connor had the most important vote in yesterday’s 5-4 decision upholding the ban on so-called partial birth abortions, according to a story in the New York Times.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined the majority. O’Connor had voted to strike down a similar law seven years ago.

In yesterday’s decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress had better defined the procedure in its new version of the law, so physicians did not risk inadvertent violations. Pregnant women could still challenge the law on as-applied grounds, arguing the law should have contained an exception for their health, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.

The ruling will spur state legislatures to enact more laws restricting abortion and will keep abortion a focus of future Supreme Court nominations, according to Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog.

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