By Laura Fishman

On April 18, Supreme Court justices upheld a nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure with a 5-4 decision.

The new conservative majority voted to retain the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2003. The law prohibits a common and often-recommended type of abortion performed during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

Associated Press writers reported that Bush was in high spirits after the Supreme Court’s approval.

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has upheld a law that prohibits the abhorrent procedure of partial-birth abortion,” Bush said in a statement. “Today’s decision affirms that the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people’s representatives enacting laws reflecting the compassion and humanity of America.”

While the case has grabbed the attention of the nation’s populace, Santa Cruz Councilmember Cynthia Mathews is not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision, considering the court’s “anti-abortion majority.” She remains discouraged about what this means for women’s health in the future.

“It’s significant nationally because politicians are interfering with medical decisions,” Mathews said. “It’s a terrible precedent for the future.”

While many people in the Santa Cruz community disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision, other community members disagree with Mathews and praise the new partial-birth abortion ban.

“A good government should be for the protection of all people, including the child inside the womb,” said Fred Hennes, a pastor at Gateway Bible Church in Scott’s Valley.

Hennes believes that an emotionally charged issue like this has the potential to have a strong impact.

The ban caused fierce emotions at Planned Parenthood, where abortion activists and doctors associated with the organization argue that the partial-birth abortion is the safest abortion method for women during the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

Buu Thai, public affairs director of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, feels that the Supreme Court’s decision will harm the health and safety of pregnant women getting late-term abortions.

“I definitely do not support their decision,” Thai said. “We [at Planned Parenthood] want to make sure health and safety of women are in the forefront.”

Mathews believes the judges considered their ideologies as more important than medical and health-related issues.

“This is an anti-choice ideology that’s interfering with medical judgment,” Mathews said. “It’s really opening the door to further restrictions that are not based on medical or scientific research.”

Pastor Dean Bouzeos of Santa Cruz Bible Church is a strong supporter of the new ban, and has prayed long and hard for stricter abortion laws.

“The ban outlaws late term abortions because in the seventh, eighth, and ninth months of pregnancy, the developing child is capable of feeling pain,” Bouzeos said. “It would probably cause women who are concerned about pregnancy to get tested earlier, and they will make decisions earlier on.”

Thai hopes that the media’s representation of the ban doesn’t leave women confused. With headlines reading, “Ban on Abortions,” people may have the misconception that abortion is completely outlawed.

“That misconception will have an impact on the women coming into the clinic,” Thai said.

Despite possible confusion on the partial-birth ban, city officials are announcing their stance on the Supreme Court’s recent decision as Santa Cruz was recently declared a “pro-choice city.”

With the city’s viewpoint conflicting with the opinions of the Supreme Court majority, it is clear that the abortion debate will continue.