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Roe gave abortion opponents a target » News — GOPUSA

CHICAGO – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

says she supports a woman’s right to choose to have an

abortion, but f eels her predecessors’ landmark Roe v. Wade

ruling 40 years ago was too sweeping and gave abortion

opponents a symbol to target.

Ginsburg, one of the most liberal members of the nation’s

high court, spoke Saturday at the University of Chicago Law

School. Ever since the decision, she said, momentum has

been on abortion opponents’ side, f ueling a state-by-state

campaign that has placed more restrictions on abortion.

“That was my concern, that the court had given opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at

relentlessly,” she told a crowd of students. “… My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the

momentum that was on the side of change.”

Four decades later, abortion is one of the most polarizing issues in American lif e, and anti-abortion activists

have pushed legislation at the state level in an ef f ort to scale back the 1973 decision. This year, governors in

North Dakota and Arkansas signed strict new abortion laws, including North Dakota’s ban on abortions as

early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Ginsburg would have rather seen the justices make a narrower decision that struck down only the Texas law

that brought the matter bef ore the court. That law allowed abortions only to save a mother’s lif e.

A more restrained judgment would have sent a message while allowing momentum to build at a time when a

number of states were expanding abortion rights, she said. She added that it might also have denied

opponents the argument that abortion rights resulted f rom an undemocratic process in the decision by

“unelected old men.”

Ginsburg told the students she pref ers what she termed “judicial restraint” and argued that such an approach

can be more ef f ective than expansive, aggressive decisions.

“The court can put its stamp of approval on the side of change and let that change develop in the political

process,” she said.

A similar dynamic is playing out over gay marriage and the speculation over how the Supreme Court might act

on that issue.

The court decided in December to take up cases on Calif ornia’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and a

f ederal law that denies to gay Americans who are legally married the f avorable tax treatment and a range of

health and pension benef its otherwise available to married couples.

Among the questions now is whether the justices will set a nationwide rule that could lead to the overturning of

laws in more than three dozen states that currently do not allow same-sex marriage. Even some supporters of

gay marriage f ear that a broad ruling could put the court ahead of the nation on a hot-button social issue and

provoke a backlash similar to the one that has f ueled the anti-abortion movement in the years f ollowing Roe.

The court could also decide to uphold Calif ornia’s ban – an outcome that would not af f ect the District of

Columbia and the 11 states that allow gay marriage.

Ginsburg did not address the pending gay marriage cases.

Asked about the continuing challenges to abortion rights, Ginsburg said that in her view Roe’s legacy will

ultimately hold up.

“It’s not going to matter that much,” she said. “Take the worst-case scenario … suppose the decision were

overruled; you would have a number of states that will never go back to the way it was.”

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