Roberts and Roe V. Wade

By: Summer Knowles
By: Summer Knowles

September 15, 2005

The questioning of John Roberts has ended. During three days of testimony the nominee for Supreme Court Chief Justice evaded specific questions about hot button issues like abortion and the right to die.

That is now raising some eyebrows across the country.

"It's a simple question," said Tim Russert. "If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, would you as governor sign legislation outlawing abortion except exceptions for [instances of] rape, incest, and life of mother. Yes or no?"

"My response is that's a hypothetical," stated Gubernatorial Candidate Jerry Kilgore.

But that hypothetical could become a reality with Roberts' nomination for Chief Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation, and an 85-year-old justice still on the court.

"Just because a justice is conservative doesn't mean he'll automatically vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade," said Matt Smyth with UVA's Center for Politics. "But as more conservative members are named to the court, it's something that is possible."

If Roberts is confirmed and the Supreme Court decides to go through with a new decision, saying a woman's right to privacy no longer includes abortion, then it would be up to the states to regulate abortions as they see fit.

"I'm a pro-life candidate running for governor," said Kilgore. "I'm not backing away from that."

Institutions like Planned Parenthood, however, are opposing any changes that would interfere with Roe v. Wade's current impact.

Roe v. Wade has been absolutely critical in guaranteeing women the right to make private and personal decisions about whether and when to bare children," said Planned Parenthood's Becky Reid. "It's also been absolutely important to ensure the equality and autonomy of women in our society."

Even though democrats feel that they would be risking a lot by confirming Roberts, Republicans continue to support him and say there's nothing in his FBI background report that would stand in the way of this confirmation.

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