Thursday, July 18, 2024

Republicans Question Sotomayor on Abortion


In Wednesday’s confirmation hearings it was clear that the Republican Senators were particularly interested in getting to the bottom of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s views on abortion. However, she refused to be pinned down on these views and explained that the abortion issue was not one that the Obama administration brought up before her nomination to the Supreme Court.

Two conservative Republican members on the committee, Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma pressed the abortion issue the most. Coburn, an ob-gyn, is one of the Senate’s most vocal opponents of abortion rights. “Where are we today?” he began. “What is the settled law in America about abortion?” Sotomayor answered citing a recent Supreme Court case, “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.” She continued: “In Casey, 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.”

Coburn seemed to be hoping to retrieve a more personal answer from her and decided to pose a hypothetical question. “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?” Sotomayor responded saying 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 Senator Coburn’s opening remarks he apologized for the anti-abortion protesters who have been interrupting the hearings.

Later in the hearing Senator Cornyn asked Sotomayor to respond to comments by a former colleague who was quoted saying she had “general liberal instincts.” Yes, she agreed, in the sense that “I promote equal opportunity in America.”

New York Times