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July 22, 2002


Communications Department

National Abortion Federation Opposes Nomination of Priscilla Owen to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Statement of Vicki Saporta, President & CEO of the National Abortion Federation

On July 23, 2002, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the nomination of Priscilla Owen to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The National Abortion Federation opposes the nomination of Priscilla Owen because of her troubling record of judicial activism and demonstrated bias against reproductive rights.

NAF has reviewed Owen's record in parental notification cases which have come before her as a Texas Supreme Court Justice. Owen's record displays a consistent bias against young women seeking abortions. In all five parental notification cases where there has been a written opinion (and in eleven out of twelve total parental notification decisions), Owen has regularly voted to deny young women access to abortion. In so doing, she has disregarded her proper role as an impartial judge in furtherance of her personal ideology.

In these cases, Owen has attempted to impose unconstitutional religious requirements on minors, and has trivialized such serious factors as abuse, parental disownment, and medical risks. Owen has explicitly refused to abide by the rule of law in regard to the parental notification statute's judicial bypass provision, which she dismisses as something which the legislature "surely" could not have intended.

This blatant lack of judicial restraint has been so extreme as to warrant condemnation from other conservative judges. Even White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, has chastised Owen for her "unconscionable judicial activism."

The National Abortion Federation believes Priscilla Owen lacks the appropriate and necessary judicial restraint and impartiality required for a federal appellate judge. NAF urges the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nomination of Priscilla Owen to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.


The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.

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