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Friday, July 1, 2005


NAF Communications Department

Vacancy on the Court: Bush Should Choose Moderation over Extremism

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

With the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor from the United States Supreme Court, President Bush has the opportunity to directly affect the make up of the Court and the lives of Americans for decades to come. The National Abortion Federation urges the President to respect the majority of Americans who want moderate justices on the Supreme Court by nominating a candidate who will win a consensus of at least 60 votes in the Senate. We urge him to consult with Senators in nominating a justice who would respect and follow established precedent, including Roe v. Wade.

Unfortunately, President Bush has a record of appointing extremists to the federal bench who do not share the views held by a majority of Americans. Recent examples of such lifetime appointments include Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and William Pryor. All of these nominees have shown an overwhelming hostility to Roe v. Wade. This hostility to Roe is shared by Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, whom Bush has called his model Supreme Court justices.

Just a month ago, the Senate struck a deal to avert the nuclear option and leave Senate rules intact by preserving the use of the filibuster for judicial nominees in "extraordinary circumstances." Any nominee who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade would be an extraordinary circumstance, and we would encourage a bipartisan filibuster to defeat such a nominee.

The vacancy left by Justice O'Connor poses a significant threat to women's reproductive rights in the United States. While Justice O'Connor voted to uphold restrictions on a woman's right to choose, she also provided pivotal votes in cases preserving the principles of Roe. President Bush now has the ability to shatter the fragile five to four balance that currently protects access to abortion care in the United States.

If President Bush were allowed to install a justice on the Supreme Court overtly hostile to safe and legal abortion, we would be facing a critical time in history. Not since before Roe was decided in 1973 have women had to sacrifice their lives and health by having back alley abortions in order to end an unwanted pregnancy. We encourage the President and the Senate to think seriously about the health and safety of women and their families when considering a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

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To interview doctors and women who experienced abortion before Roe v. Wade, please contact NAF's Communications Department at 202-667-5881 x219.

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