In Dicta

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Jane Roberts on abortion

From The New York Times today:

"Judge John G. Roberts has left little hard evidence of his views on abortion in recent years and is widely expected to try to avoid the issue in his coming confirmation hearings.

But there is little mystery about the views of his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, a Roman Catholic lawyer from the Bronx whose pro bono work for Feminists for Life is drawing intense interest in the ideologically charged environment of a Supreme Court confirmation debate

Some abortion opponents view her activities as a clear signal that the Robertses are committed to their cause; supporters of abortion rights fear the same thing. Others say that drawing a direct line from her activities to how her husband might rule on the Supreme Court - assuming that he not only shares her views, but would also act on them to overturn 32 years of legal precedents - is both politically risky and in bad form.


No less a Democratic stalwart than Senator Edward M. Kennedy said, at a breakfast meeting with reporters on Friday, that Mrs. Roberts's work "ought to be out of bounds."

Advocates on both sides have long acknowledged that with this issue, the personal is often political. But Mrs. Roberts has led an independent and unapologetic life that defies any attempt at pigeonholing.

Mrs. Roberts, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was not recruited by Feminists for Life, but sought the group out about a decade ago and offered her services as a lawyer, said its president, Serrin Foster. The group was reorganizing at the time and beginning to focus its work on college campuses. Its mission statement, driven home in advertising in recent years, says: "Abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion."

Mrs. Roberts served on the board of the organization for four years, and later provided legal services. Ms. Foster said that as an adoptive parent, Mrs. Roberts made contributions that included urging the group to focus more on the needs of biological mothers, and adding a biological mother to the board of directors."

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