Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts Called Abortion "Tragedy" in Memo

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 16, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts Called Abortion "Tragedy" in Memo

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 16, 2005

Washington, DC ( — New memos on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts find that, during his tenure as an attorney in the Reagan administration, he once referred to abortion as a "tragedy." The papers discuss Roberts’ correspondence with a pro-life advocate in California who wanted to bury 17,000 dead unborn children authorities found.

Physician Philip Dreisbach, secretary of the California Pro-Life Medical Association, wanted Reagan to attend the memorial service for the babies. Responding to a request for President Reagan to attend, Roberts wrote the memorial service idea was "an entirely appropriate means of calling attention to the abortion tragedy."

In the October 1985 memo, Roberts also wrote that Reagan’s "position is that the fetuses were human beings, or at least cannot be proven not to have been, and accordingly a memorial service would seem an entirely appropriate means of calling attention to the abortion tragedy."

The memorial service came after a three year battle over what to do with the dead babies after officials discovered them in February 1982 stored in a bin outside the home of a man who managed a medical laboratory. The lab frequently reviewed the remains of babies from abortions for abortion centers and hospitals.

The Feminist Women’s Health Center abortion facility of Los Angeles had sued to stop Los Angeles county from giving the babies to a local Catholic pro-life group for the burial.

The Supreme Court eventually ruled the county had to dispose of the babies’ remains and that it could not hand them over for a religious memorial service.

Other documents released yesterday point to Roberts’ discussion of abortion issues.

One document has Roberts correcting a speech written for President Reagan in which the writer says the Roe v. Wade decision overturned all of the laws regarding abortion.

The proposed speech, for Reagan to give at an address to a pro-abortion group, would have had the president say the ruling "made void all our laws protecting the lives of infants developing in their mothers’ wombs."

Roberts suggested changing "all our laws" to "many of our laws" and he advised that the proposed wording was "legally inaccurate." He pointed out that the Roe decision did allow virtually unlimited abortions, but states could regulate abortions in the later parts of pregnancy.

The memorandums did not say whether Roberts’ suggestions were incorporated into the speech.

Abortion advocates want President Bush to authorize the release of more documents about Roberts related to Roberts’ work as deputy solicitor general under former President Bush. The Justice Department has rejected the request citing attorney client privilege and pointing to a bipartisan agreement by former solicitor generals against releasing sensitive documents.

They want to know whether a brief Roberts filed calling the Roe decision bad law and saying it should be overturned represents his views, only the views of former President Bush or both.