The Battle over Abortion

A bitterly divided Supreme Court sets the stage for the most corrosive political fight since the debate over Viet Nam

The imposing marble-and-mahogany chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court seems too stately a place for dropping a political bombshell. Yet last week, while opposing bands of demonstrators taunted each other with noisy chants and protest signs on the plaza in front of the court, that is precisely what happened. Seven of the nine Justices emerged from behind the red velvet curtain and took their seats. In the hushed chamber, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist read in his singsong, quivering voice excerpts of the long-awaited decision of the divided court in the case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. Before he was...

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