Senate Pro-Life Advocates May Filibuster Obama’s Pro-Abortion Legal Counsel Pick

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 2, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Pro-Life Advocates May Filibuster Obama’s Pro-Abortion Legal Counsel Pick

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 2
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Because she has such strongly pro-abortion views that place her outside the mainstream, pro-life advocates in the U.S. Senate are considering a filibuster of Dawn Johnsen, President Barack Obama’s nominee to become the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Legal Counsel.

Johnsen, a former NARAL attorney who was its legal director from 1988-1993, has been criticized for equating pregnancy with slavery.

Her views are so extreme that pro-life members of the House have called on Obama to withdraw her nomination.

Congressman Steve King and several other pro-life lawmakers went to the floor of the House Wednesday night and called for Johnsen’s name to be withdrawn.

“Nominating Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel is an insult to pro-life Americans who are willing to work with President Obama to find common ground," he said.

"Her personal pro-abortion agenda, previous disparaging comments about pro-life Americans and past criticism of Congress’ ban on partial-birth abortion are evidence that she is not interested in finding common ground with those who oppose her narrow philosophy," King added.

"Johnsen has condemned virtually every type of regulation of abortion conceived by a legislature," he said. “She is so against an unborn child’s right-to-live that she has labeled mothers-to-be ‘fetal containers.’"

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, brought up Johnsen’s troubling remarks during her confirmation hearing in the panel.

Johnsen made the comments in a 1989 brief filed in the Supreme Court in the Webster case.

In the papers, Johnsen said that any restriction that makes abortion less accessible is, in her view, tantamount to “involuntary servitude” because it “requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest [in the life of the unborn].”

In effect, a woman “is constantly aware for nine months that her body is not her own: the state has conscripted her body for its own ends.” Such “forced pregnancy,” she contends, violates the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits slavery.

In response to Specter’s criticism, Johnsen dismissed her pregnancy-slavery contention and said it merely came in a footnote in the legal brief. She claims she never “believed the 13th Amendment had any role” in the abortion issue.

After she worked with NARAL, Johnsen served in the Clinton administration as the Acting Assistant Attorney General heading the Office of Legal Counsel from 1997-1998 and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General from 1993-1996. She also served on the Clinton transition team in 1992.

ACTION: Contact your two U.S. senators and urge strong opposition to the Johnsen nomination. Call 202-224-3121 to connect with any senator’s office or visit

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