OpEdNews Op Eds

Is Sotomayor a threat to Roe v. Wade? Don't ask the NY Times.

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H1 5/28/09

Become a Fan
  (20 fans)
An article in Thursday's New York Times reveals that some pro-choice groups are concerned that "Judge Sotomayor may not be a reliable vote to uphold Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision." The article quotes NARAL president Nancy Keenan as calling for the Senate to press the issue during the confirmation hearings:
"Discussion about Roe v. Wade will -- and must -- be part of this nomination process. As you know, choice hangs in the balance on the Supreme Court as the last two major choice-related cases were decided by a 5-to-4 margin."
This is an important issue, and NARAL's concern should not be too readily dismissed. But it's worth taking some time to research the court cases behind their concern. As the Times reveals, in 2002 Sotomayor sided with George W. Bush on the Global Gag Rule, which had withheld federal funds from nongovernmental health and family planning organizations that provided abortion information or referrals in other countries. And in 2004 she sided with anti-choice demonstrators who wanted to sue police for using excessive force to break up a demonstration. I don't see either of these decisions as a threat to Roe v. Wade. They didn't deal directly with the issue of abortion rights as U.S. law. The Times piece also cites some cases in which Sotomayor sided with Chinese women who were threatened with forced abortions under China's strict population control program. But there is a big difference between opposing forced abortions and supporting a woman's own right to reproductive choice. In fact, opposing forced abortions is, in itself, supportive of the woman's own choice. And then the Times chose end the piece with a bit of ethnic stereotyping. It presents the views of Steven Waldman of BeliefNet.com, who seems to think that he can predict Sotomayor's legal decisions based not on the law but on her ethnicity:
Mr. Waldman of BeliefNet.com [...] noted that Judge Sotomayor was raised Roman Catholic, although there are many judges who do not follow the church's dogma -- like opposing abortion and the death penalty -- in their jurisprudence. Moreover, he said, it is significant that as a group, Hispanics include a higher percentage of abortion opponents than many other parts of the Democratic Party's coalition. Judge Sotomayor's parents moved from Puerto Rico. "At the very least, she grew up in a culture that didn't hold the pro-life position in contempt," Mr. Waldman said.
And this is supposed to be journalism? Not only do I find this ethnic stereotyping disturbing, I am insulted by the implication that Sotomayor is little more than a product of her culture, and not a highly educated legal professional trained and practiced in the art of critical thinking and the science of law. In short, it seems to me that we do not have enough strong evidence to guess how Sotomayor would decide if faced with a challenge to Roe v. Wade. So, with that in mind, I would have to agree with NARAL that it's up to the Senate to press the issue during the confirmation process, if they believe it to be relevant. And it is up to Sotomayor to answer or not, based on whether or not she believes it to be relevant.


Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

No Excuse for Racial Profiling

No, Dan, America is Not a Christian Nation

Tea Party Talking Points, Translated

The Myth of the Christian Right

They Still Cling to Guns and Religion

Racism Then and Now


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Sonia Sotomayor And Gun Control May 26th, 2... by MARGARET BASET on Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 7:09:37 AM
I have to go with Mr. Waldman. Most hispanic women... by shirley reese on Friday, May 29, 2009 at 8:26:41 PM