.- Several pro-abortion groups have issued reactions to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court. While praising the choice, some groups avoided the abortion issue while one asked for reassurances about the nominee’s commitment to Roe v. Wade.
Nancy Northrup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), said Judge Sotomayor’s growing up in a single parent household with limited means should provide her with a perspective “sorely needed today as women’s reproductive rights remain under attack.” Northrup claimed that the pro-abortion rights Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade has been “increasingly in jeopardy” in law and in fact by a “severe shortage of abortion providers,” “onerous” state abortion restrictions, and a lack of funding. These factors, she said, make abortion “virtually unavailable” for many women.
“It is critical that any new Justice empathize with the true plight of women to not only recognize when those protections are being violated, but to take steps to safeguard them. We encourage the Senate Judiciary Committee to engage Judge Sotomayor and any future nominees to the Court on their commitment to the principles of Roe v. Wade,” Northrup added.
Noting that the nominee has not ruled on the constitutionality of abortion, Northrup addressed Sotomayor’s 2002 opinion against the CRR’s case challenging the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, which prohibited U.S. funding for organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas.
Northrup said the CRR charged that the center’s overseas work with “women’s rights organizations seeking law reform” to address “the deaths and harmful consequences of unsafe abortion” would be hampered by the policy.
According to Northrup, Sotomayor’s opinion “focused on the application of legal precedent and did not express a view on or discuss the impact of” the Mexico City Policy, which Northrup characterized as “the Global Gag Rule.”
The CRR, then known as the Center for Reproductive Law & Policy (CRLP), had brought the suit which resulted in the U.S. Second District Court of Appeals decision “Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. George W. Bush.”
A district court’s previous decision had ruled that the CRLP did not have legal standing and rejected the CRLP’s claim the policy violated First Amendment protections by chilling foreign non-governmental organizations’ ability to collaborate with domestic NGOs.
Judge Sotomayor rejected part of the district court’s argument and said that the CRLP had “competitive advocate standing” because CRLP is an advocacy organization for its views on “issues of abortion and reproductive rights.” She ruled that the group “competes with anti-abortion groups engaged in advocacy around the very same issues.”
However, Sotomayor rejected as “without merit” the CRLP’s argument that the Mexico City Policy violated equal protection guarantees, saying “The Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position, and can do so with public funds.”
Other leaders of pro-abortion groups also weighed in on the Sotomayor nomination.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said Sotomayor’s nomination was “historic” and a “strong signal” that President Obama wants Supreme Court justices who “respect precedent.”
“What our nation needs from our Supreme Court justices is a deep understanding of the law, an appreciation of the impact of the court's decisions on everyday Americans, and a commitment to the protection of our individual liberties. Judge Sotomayor will bring this dedication and commitment with her to the bench,” Richards’ May 26 statement said.
Richards’ statement did not explicitly mention abortion or Roe v. Wade.
National Organization for Women (NOW) President Kim Gandy in a May 26 statement announced her organization would celebrate the nomination and launch a “Confirm Her” campaign to ensure Judge Sotomayor’s swift confirmation.
Predicting that Sotomayor will serve “with distinction,” Gandy praised the nominee for bringing “a lifelong commitment to equality, justice and opportunity” and for enjoying “the respect of her peers, unassailable integrity, and a keen intellect informed by experience.”
Grady, whose statement also did not explicitly mention abortion or Roe v. Wade, said President Obama had found in Sotomayor his desired judicial qualities of a “towering intellect” and a “common touch.”