Archive for April 18th, 2007

Before understanding why the Supreme Court ruling to uphold legislation is still a lost, let me give some background on the Congressional Legislation that was upheld:

Description of the Law

FOXNews reported on the television today the results of the supreme court case, Gonzales v. Carhart, regarding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush. The act describes partial-birth abortion as:

an abortion in which a physician delivers an unborn child’s body until only the head remains inside the womb, punctures the back of the child’s skull with a Sharp instrument, and sucks the child’s brains out before completing delivery of the dead infant — is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited.

The act also justifies the prohibition centering on the lack of evidence that the procedure is safer than any alternative method citing the increase risk of,

“among other things: an increase in a woman’s risk of suffering from cervical incompetence, a result of cervical dilation making it difficult or impossible for a woman to successfully carry a subsequent pregnancy to term; an increased risk of uterine rupture, abruption, amniotic fluid embolus, and trauma to the uterus as a result of converting the child to a footling breech position, a procedure which, according to a leading obstetrics textbook, “there are very few, if any, indications for . . . other than for delivery of a second twin”; and a risk of lacerations and secondary hemorrhaging due to the doctor blindly forcing a sharp instrument into the base of the unborn child’s skull while he or she is lodged in the birth canal, an act which could result in severe bleeding, brings with it the threat of shock, and could ultimately result in maternal death.”

The act also goes into details about the baby, noting,

“The vast majority of babies killed during partial-birth abortions are alive until the end of the procedure. It is a medical fact, however, that unborn infants at this stage can feel pain when subjected to painful stimuli and that their perception of this pain is even more intense than that of newborn infants and older children when subjected to the same stimuli. Thus, during a partial-birth abortion procedure, the child will fully experience the pain associated with piercing his or her skull and sucking out his or her brain.”

The Supreme Court Opinion

The majority 5-4 opinion states, “We conclude the Act should be sustained against the objections lodged by the broad, facial attack brought against it.” A FoxNews article observes, “The decision pitted the court’s conservatives against its liberals, with President Bush’s two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, siding with the majority. Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia also were in the majority.”

This was a much different outcome from an earlier law in 2000, passed by congress which was not upheld by the Supreme Court in Stenborg vs Carhart. FOXNews writer notes that, “In 2000, the court with key differences in its membership struck down a state ban on partial-birth abortions.”

Still a Loss

This is ultimately not a win for abortion activists based on several observations.

First, Chief Justice Kennedy did not support prohibiting abortion from the earlier 2000 Nebraskan legislation. The FOXNews article states that “Kennedy’s dissent in 2000 was so strong that few court watchers expected him to take a different view of the current case.”

Second, the current majority opinion maintains the same position the court has always held:

“We assume the following principles for the purposes of this opinion. Before viability, a State “may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy.” 505 U. S., at 879 (plurality opinion). It also may not impose upon this right an undue burden, which exists if a regulation’s “purpose or effect is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.” Id., at 878. On the other hand, “[r]egulations which do no more than create a structural mechanism by which the State, or the parent or guardian of a minor, may express profound respect for the life of the unborn are permitted, if they are not a substantial obstacle to the woman’s exercise of the right to choose.” Id., at 877. Casey, in short, struck a balance. The balance was central to its holding. We now apply its standard to the cases at bar.”

(GONZALES v. CARHART Opinion of the Court 15-16)

Third, the opinion of the court, upon review of the District Court’s decision, states:

“The District Court in Carhart concluded the Act was unconstitutional for two reasons. First, it determined the Act was unconstitutional because it lacked an exception allowing the procedure where necessary for the health ofthe mother. 331 F. Supp. 2d, at 1004–1030. Second, the District Court found the Act deficient because it covered not merely intact D&E but also certain other D&Es. Id., at 1030–1037.”

(GONZALES v. CARHART Opinion of the Court 19)

In other words, the previous opinion ruled the previous law was too general, prohibiting more than partial-birth abortion procedure, called ‘Intact D&E’, developed by Dr. Martin Haskell and presented in 1992 (GONZALES v. CARHART Opinion of the Court 14).

Fourth, the majority court opinion concludes, “that the Act is not void for vagueness, does not impose an undue burden from any overbreadth, and is not invalid on its face.” Thus, the reason why this law was upheld was the law specifically banned a particularly gruesome type of procedure that did not “pose undue burden” upon a woman’s right to choose abortion.

In conclusion, this is a win for abortion activists. Ultimately, the Supreme Court has made clear its position that abortion should not be banned. The majority ruling essentially bans a certain method of execution. The supreme court ruling by analogy affirmed the death penalty but forbid death by firing squad but for babies. The only comfort to pro-life activists is that now babies will die less painfully- without getting their brains sucked out.

Read Full Post »

Ismail Ax

Are the networks and reporters ready to tackle the issues? When are they going to start talking about, “Ismail Ax?”

This was written across the murderer’s hand. The news have reported on everything, assignment papers, counseling, friends, where he came from, his family, guns, etc. BUT what about the inscription on his hand!

The name Ismail refers to a prophet’s name in Islam.

Was this murderer a follower of Islam or influence by Islamic teaching? Maybe, perhaps, no, yes, the news need to report on it and someone needs to investigate.

VA Tech mass shooting: Who or what is Ismail Ax? UPDATED

Read Full Post »

A post about eternal salvation causes Mike’s blog to make the (currently 20) top posts on wordpress. Currently with 37 comments thus far, it looks like the comments may keep increasing. Join the discussion.

Read Full Post »

MSNBC’s “Hokie Nation Supports Steger” notes the criticism that the President of Virginia Tech, Charles Steger, “has come under criticism for the delay of more than two hours before an e-mail was sent to students and staff notifying them that there had been a shooting on campus.”

My message to the critics: Stop criticizing Virgina Tech for failing to send an email out sooner. In real life things require time and there’s the uncertainty of what’s going on, and the location or activity of people.

There are several things to consider in order to understand the delay in shutting down the college. First, the speed of communication and uncertainty due to such.

Communications is extremely important during combat. Most institutions do not have a communication system in place to deliver rapid information from the sender to the addressee. The uncertainty and delay in communication is apparent from BBC’s excellent time-line of events:

VT Shooting Timeline

Of special importance was that, “At the time the shootings [were] believed to be an isolated, domestic incident.” For one, the shooting stopped. Two, the shooter was not found. The police treated it as an isolated incident, because at the time- it was an isolated incident! Do police normally wait two hours before assuming the murderer has finished killing?

Also, the police treated it as an isolated incident and the campus would have been told so.

Three, the criticism does not take into account that the police were still there taking security precautions and pursuing leads!

“Police seal off the hall, home to about 900 students, and tell students to stay indoors. Blacksburg police help to establish a safety perimeter and close nearby Washington Street.

Officers question students and, by 0730, a “person of interest” is being investigated.

At 0825 senior university staff meet to assess what is happening and how to tell students. At 0900 the leadership team is briefed by the campus police chief. “

No doubt the police told the president and the rest of the senior university staff of the investigation and security precautions currently being taken. Thus the president and the police both acted under the assumption that the two killings were isolated. In other words, they did not assume there going to be more killings, they did not assume the shooter had not finished but took precautions regardless. The police already isolated the building as well as closing down the street, which probably seemed adequate for just one building. Additionally the campus was already acting quickly, having a meeting shortly after an hour later.

Why is an hour quick? Because most likely the first notification after the shootings was to campus security- either by phone or finding a security guard to radio it in. Minus 5 minutes from confusion and fear from gunshots and subsequent call of situation and location to 911. Second, after the dispatcher sent officers as well as paramedics to respond to the call, the police dispatcher would have likely notified the sergeant or supervisor on watch at the time. The supervisor would likely have then either called or walked over and notified the chief of police or acting person in charge at the police station at the time. Minus five minutes. The acting commander would probably consider finding the suspect, assuming he hasn’t already fled, by searching the building and possibly the campus, securing a perimeter to prevent students and others from going in and out, isolating the crime scene and contacting outside forensics and homicide detective (I doubt campus police would have those departments on a college university). Minus five minutes.

My point is that contacting the president or any of the other staff would have been the last priority to securing the area, providing medical attention, and locating the shooter. So finally when the message actually got to the university, either directly to the president or to an assistant, the person would likely ask the assistant to make calls to all the senior staff notifying them of the situation and asking them to come in if they haven’t already. Minus at least another five to ten minutes for this. If the senior staff were not on campus one must allot time for driving to the meeting place. Minus 10 to 20 minutes. It is even more worthy of note that the senior staff met at 8:25, before the chief even briefed the leadership at 9am.

 At this point of time during more meeting deliberating how to react to the chief’s brief and how to announce it to the students that the second series of shootings began an Norris Hall. It is also notable to observe that the staff finished discussion in less than 30 minutes after the chief briefed them and sent an email out at 9:26am.

It would not be unusual that there were no security guards at the lecture halls and classrooms. Most likely, due to the already alerted presence, the police would be able to respond- it would not be immediately after the gunshots could be heard. There might also require additional consideration because the police assets were focused on the securing the area, shutting down the street, and processing the crime scene that any police or security that may have been near Norris Hall was moved from guarding a hall to the more pressing murders. Additionally even if police immediately responded to the gunshots half a mile away, police shutting down the street or securing the dorms would drop everything they’re doing and run toward the gunshots. Most likely a call would’ve been put out that gunshots were heard and the direction they may have heard.

It would not be until later that either a person in the classrooms might have called 911 or responding police identify the specific building the new gunshots were coming from. Standard procedure would have most likely to secure the perimeter, though because of the need to save students and the small police force may have prompted a few to attempt to enter the building- only to discover that some of the doors were chained closed. Once the second shooting location was finally established, the police may have finally notified the senior staff.

Thus even though the second email was 40 minutes after the second series of shootings began, it only 10 minutes after the police even responded to the call. Thus from the time the police knew, it required only 10 minutes for the police to contact university staff, and the university staff to send the second email as well as emergency phone calls.

Last thing to note is that after the second series of shooting began at 9:15 the cell phone calls would have definitely been overloaded with cell phone calls if it hadn’t already by the first shooting incident. The only ways of communicating effectively were land lines and radio.

Read Full Post »