Samuel Alito Defends Opinion on Spousal Notification for Abortions Law

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 10, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Samuel Alito Defends Opinion on Spousal Notification for Abortions Law

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 10, 2006

Washington, DC ( — During his hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, Samuel Alito defended his decision in a case that eventually went to the Supreme Court that involved a Pennsylvania law limiting abortions. One aspect of the law allowed husbands to know when their wives were considering an abortion of their child.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law, and Alito dissented in the case. The Supreme Court eventually upheld portions of the law but agreed with striking the spousal notification requirement, but Justice William Rehnquist quoted from Alito’s opinion in his own dissent.

Alito told the committee he dissented "because that’s what I thought the law required." He said courts should avoid being swayed by public opinion in the issues.

Alito said that while the judiciary "has to protect rights, and should be vigorous" in doing so, the role "is a limited role. It should always be asking itself whether it is straying over the bounds, whether it is invading" the authority of the legislature, for example.

However, in this case, public opinion sides with Alito in favoring a requirement allowing husbands to know if their unborn child may become an abortion victim.

As recently as January 2003, a Gallup Poll found 72 percent of those surveyed favor the idea.

In November 2005, a new poll conducted by the Washington-based Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, also finds more than 70 percent of Americans support the notion of not leaving husbands out of the abortion decision-making process.

Abortion advocates have accused Alito of sympathizing with wife beaters by saying a wife would need permission from her husband for an abortion even if she was sexually abused. However, the Pennsylvania law Alito supported contained exceptions for such situations.

The case in which Alito dissented, upholding the law, also included a provision requiring abortion practitioners to inform women of the potential "medical dangers" of abortion and alternatives to the procedure — something helping women.