With Chief Justice William Rehnquist still recuperating from cancer surgery, the Supreme Court today remained evenly divided over whether the death of an infant being delivered in a hospital in Fallujah qualified as a partial birth abortion. The arguments on both sides concern the fact that the newborn was still attached to the mother at the time of its death, raising the question of whether recent anti-abortion laws passed by the interim government of Iyad Allawi, in consultation with Jerry Falwell’s Faith and Values Coalition, defined the death as a war crime. Initial complaints leveled by the obstetrician who was seized by a Marine storming the hospital before the umbilical cord could be cut were dismissed by a US military panel as a “good kill.” Let’s face it, said Major Rommel who oversaw the panel, “it’s not likely the kid would have grown up to love Americans. The odds are pretty good we have one less terrorist to deal with later on down the line.” But the details of the case were somehow leaked to Falwell’s offices where, as one witness put it, “all hell broke loose.”
After threatening to withdraw their support for the war, Falwell’s organization succeeded in having the case heard in civilian court where it quickly found its way to the Supreme Court docket. Arguments over the precise definition of “partial birth abortion” seem to have the court hopelessly deadlocked, as the only expert witness offering to provide a definition received his MD from Mr Falwell’s university and started talking in tongues as soon as he began to be examined by the Justices. At one point, Clarence Thomas, who some have suggested will replace Rehnquist as Chief Justice later this year, suggested classifying the infant’s death as an “after birth abortion,” but his fellow conservatives on the bench immediately objected that this new category might complicate the further progress of Iraq liberation efforts.
The case promises to open up a whole range of legal issues surrounding the rights of Marines to perform de facto abortions under the new rules instituted by the interim Iraqi government. For example, if a pregnancy is terminated after fifteen weeks because the mother has her head blown off, a US soldier may be liable for prosecution in Iraq depending on the interpretation of certain language in the new rules. Many such questions will have to wait until Arabic speakers with sufficient education and intelligence to comprehend legal arguments can be found who are acceptable to US and Iraqi officials. For his part, Falwell is adamant that the umbilical cord must be severed for the child’s killing to be “good in the sight of God.” “The victim was still a fetus,” he said, “and therefore a human being, and this Marine is guilty of murder.”
The Marine private who has been singled out as the one who let the fetus drop to the floor is charged with performing an illegal abortion paid for with government funds and is being held incommunicado at a secret location. Falwell suggested he should be sent to Egypt with the rest of the abortion loving liberals where “they know what medical instruments are for.”