Sarah Weddington, the Texas attorney who argued for abortion in Roe v. Wade, expressed concern that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has “the determination” to overturn the infamous case.
Speaking with Glamour this week, Weddington echoed the worries of many in the abortion industry about the future of the high court and abortion on demand.
If confirmed, Kavanaugh would swing the court to a 5-4 conservative majority and open up the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade and restoring protections to unborn babies.
Senate hearings about his confirmation begin Tuesday.
“For several years now I’ve talked about how my biggest worry is who is going to be on the Supreme Court in the future,” Weddington told the magazine. “You’ve got four judges who are not going to diminish or overturn Roe v. Wade. But you need five. … I think Kavanaugh would enter the courtroom to hear a case against Roe with the determination to help overturn it.”
Pro-abortion groups have labeled Kavanaugh’s nomination a “serious threat” to “women’s right to safe, legal abortion,” while national pro-life leaders have expressed high hopes for Kavanaugh and the future of unborn babies’ rights.
Roe v. Wade has been a key focus around the open U.S. Supreme Court seat. For more than four decades it has stood, allowing approximately 60 million unborn babies to be killed legally in abortions. Retired Justice Anthony Kennedy was not a reliable vote on abortion issues. Sometimes he sided with the abortion industry, and other times he upheld moderate abortion restrictions, such as the partial-birth abortion ban.
Pro-lifers hope Kavanaugh would be more consistently pro-life – something that abortion activists like Weddington fear.
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She told the magazine:
“I think the administration is trying to make people think Kavanaugh will not turn over Roe v. Wade,” says Weddington. Although Kavanaugh has said that he will “abide by precedent,” she believes that’s because he knows Susan Collins, the U.S. Senator from Maine and possibly a swing vote on his nomination, will not vote for someone who is explicit about his intent to overturn Roe. “The problem,” she points out, “is he couldn’t overturn Roe as a lower court judge. But he can as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Even if Kavanaugh would not vote to overturn Roe completely, his vote could restore protections to unborn babies. Roe v. Wade and its companion case Doe v. Bolton make America one of the most permissive countries in the world for abortions, allowing late-term abortions after 20 weeks for basically any reason.
Weddington mentioned the possibility of the court chipping away at Roe:
It’s important not to just watch the musical chairs of justices, but to keep an eye on what kinds of cases could come before the court. Some cases might lead the Court to endorse restrictions on abortion access—for example, making waiting periods or parental consent mandatory (as Kavanaugh hinted he might do in one case involving a teen immigrant). But if the Court were to overturn Roe outright, it would be much like the days when Weddington started her career: women would travel over state lines to places like California or New York to get care. “People are already starting to think about, OK, how do we find the money for people with very few funds to get from where they are to a place where it’s legal to have an abortion?” she says. “Over a period of months you could certainly have women desperate to find a place to get an abortion and, I’m afraid, turning to self abortion or illegal abortion someplace.”
The pro-abortion lawyer said she had hoped that opposition to abortion would diminish in the months and years after the 1973 decision.
“Well, I was wrong,” Weddington said, noting the enduring strength of the pro-life movement. Even the Jane Roe of her case, Norma McCorvey, became pro-life and fought to overturn the case that bears her name.
Weddington said she puts her hope in the young women running for political offices. But pro-lifers also have high hopes, not only in the Supreme Court but also in young adults who are taking up the lead in the four-decades-long fight to restore legal protections for babies in the womb.