WASHINGTON - A coalition of anti-abortion groups protested outside the Justice Department Wednesday to urge speedy enforcement of the national ban on partial birth abortions.
The groups asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales about how the department will enforce last month's Supreme Court decision upholding the ban.
“What we're here to ask the attorney general and Department of Justice are two things: When will you enforce [the] ban? How will [the] ban be enforced?” said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney,director of Christian Defense Coalition.
Mahoney's speech in front of the department's building on Pennsylvania Avenue was broadcast live on the National Pro-Life Radio Web site.
“Human justice issues transcend gender,race and political lines. Real work begins now,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney has planned an eight-week effort across the country,including stops in Kansas and New York,to educate the public about partial birth abortions and the Supreme Court decision banning it.
“With the ban of partial birth abortions,there is nothing that says how it's going to be enforced and when. We want them to make a plan.” said Day Gardner,president of the National Black Pro-Life Union.
The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision on April 18 marked the first time the justices have held that a specific abortion procedure could be banned. Almost a month later,the Christian Defense Coalition,the National Pro-Life Action Center,the Generation Life and the National Black Pro-Life Union want action.
The Department of Justice declined to comment. A department spokesman did meet with the group to accept its letter and said he would give it to Gonzales.
Partial birth abortion,known medically as “intact dilation and extraction,” involves removing the fetus in an intact condition rather than dismembering it in the uterus.
“This procedure is similar to killing a newborn infant,” said Paul Schenck,executive director of the National Pro-Life Action Center. “Justice [Anthony] Kennedy took four pages to describe procedure. The U.S. has made this a notorious crime felony. Enforce the law now.”
The case was argued before the Supreme Court Nov. 8. The ban,enacted in 2003,had been blocked from taking effect by lower court rulings.
Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion upholding the ban that the procedure is “laden with the power to devalue human life.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the dissent that the ruling “so at odds with our jurisprudence should not have staying power.”
Mahoney said the groups would continue to pressure the Justice Department if it does not take action soon.
“Will this brutal,barbaric act against women and children be banned,and when will it be banned?” he asked.
Added Schenck,”This is not a debate. This is not a question. This is a civil rights and human rights issue.”
In the letter to Gonzales,the anti-abortion groups thanked him for his efforts in helping to ensure the federal ban was upheld and said the victory will mean nothing if it is not enforced. They asked for two things: that he make it clear when the federal ban on partial birth abortions actually begins and that he lay out a clear and distinct agenda about how officials will enforce the ban.
“We want to be fair,” Mahoney said. “We don't want to show up with people and signs and bull horns. We want to give the attorney general and Department of Justice time to tell the American people.”
Mahoney has already made a stop in New Jersey. He was to be in Buffalo,N.Y.,later Wednesday and in Wichita,Kan.,Saturday.