Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Sotomayor Questioned on Abortion Law During Confirmation Hearings
NY Times: Republican Senators Press Sotomayor on Abortion Views, by David Stout:
Judge Sonia Sotomayor refused on Wednesday to be pinned down about her views on abortion rights, a subject she said President Obama never brought up before he nominated her for a Supreme Court seat.
The judge was asked about abortion by two conservative Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Mr. Coburn is one of the Senate’s most outspoken foes of abortion rights...
“Where are we today?” Mr. Coburn asked. “What is the settled law in America about abortion?”
In response, Judge Sotomayor cited recent Supreme Court history. “In Planned Parenthood versus Casey, the court reaffirmed the core holding of Roe versus Wade, that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy in certain circumstances.
“In Casey,” she went on, “the court announced that in reviewing state regulations that may apply to that right, that the court considers whether that regulation has an undue burden on the woman’s constitutional right. That’s my understanding of what the state of the law is.”
But Mr. Coburn was seeking to engage her on a deeper, perhaps more personal level. “Let’s say I’m 38 weeks pregnant and we discover a small spina bifida sac on the lower sacrum, the lower part of the back, on my baby, and I feel like I just can’t handle a child with that,” he said. “Would it be legal in this country to terminate that child’s life?”
The nominee said she could not answer “in the abstract, because I would have to look at what the state of the state’s law was on that question and what the state said with respect to that issue.”
In his opening remarks to the nominee, Mr. Coburn apologized for the several outbursts by anti-abortion protesters since the hearings began. “Anybody who values life like I do and is pro-life recognizes that the way you change minds is not yell at people,” the senator said. “You love them.”