Abortion rights advocates see 'reason to fear Souter'
Subject: Abortion rights advocates see 'reason to fear Souter'
Source: People's Daily World (212) 924-2523
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Abortion rights advocates charge that the Bush administration's
willingness to press the fight for its anti-abortion regulations up to the
Supreme Court is an indication of their confidence that if Judge David Souter
is added to the High Court, Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
On Sept. 7, the Justice Department filed a brief with the Supreme Court
calling for the overturning of the 1973 Roe decision, but it did not advocate
that the high court do so with the two cases before it on family planning
clinics. That action came a day after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
ruled that government regulations which prohibit federally- funded family
planning clinics from offering abortion counseling or referrals are
The Supreme Court agreed to consider the issue because of conflicting
rulings from appeals courts in Boston and New York City, before the latest
Kate Michelman, executive director of the National Abortion Rights
Action League, said, "This is direct evidence that there is reason to fear
Judge Souter. The administration must feel confident they will soon have the
votes to overturn Roe."
The brief was filed by Solicitor General Kenneth Starr. It said that
the Supreme Court's "conclusions in Roe that there is a fundamental right to
an abortion and that the government has a compelling interest in protecting
prenatal human life throughout pregnancy find no support in the text,
structure or history of the Constitution."
The 10th Circuit, in Denver, agreed with a March decision by the appeals
court in Boston. It also ruled that the regulations violate the First
Amendment rights of physicians to properly advise their patients.
In all three appellate cases, abortion providers such as Planned
Parenthood and some physicians, as well as state health departments, sued the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which issued the regulations.
About 4,000 public and private family planning clinics receive federal
funds under the program started in 1970.
Originally, the federal health agency permitted counseling and referrals
for all legal medical options for pregnant women, including abortion. In 1981
the department required such counseling and referrals, but in 1988, the last
year of the Reagan administration, the department changed the regulations and
said it would cut off funds to clinics offering abortion counseling and
The funds were never interrupted because several lower federal courts
issued injunctions against the government.
The law creating the 1970 program does not permit government funds to be
used for abortions. The program, known as Title X, is the largest source of
federal funding of family-planning services.