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Save the Court

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Women Protesting Supreme Court Nominee

The right to a safe, legal abortion and birth control is on the line with Harriet Miers' nomination to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court.

With the O'Connor seat as the fifth vote on not only abortion, but many issues important to women and people of color, the public deserves to know much more about Harriet Miers and her views on the issues.

Too much is at stake to take a risk on a Supreme Court nominee with little to no paper trail.

That's why your National Organization for Women, together with the Feminist Majority, are launching a campaign to urge Senators, 'Vote NO If You Don't Know."

We do know that Miers is the only nominee since Bork to decline (so far, at least) to embrace the Griswold decision that guaranteed married couples the right to use birth control, and evidence indicates that she is totally opposed to abortion, based on a questionnaire she completed in the 1980s when she ran for Dallas City Council. And unless Senators are convinced that she has changed that position, then they must vote NO on the nomination.

Starting tomorrow, please join us for a series of Speak-Outs for Women's Lives in Washington, DC as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for Miers' confirmation hearings. Details are below.

Whoever fills Justice O'Connor's seat is the crucial fifth vote on abortion. On November 30, that vote could be put to the test. The Supreme Court will hear critical abortion-related cases on that day.

This is it - the battle we have all been dreading. Harriet Miers could be the crucial fifth vote to take away our rights — beginning with the health exception that requires any state or federal abortion restriction to have an exception to protect the woman's health, then eventually to overrule Roe itself. Right now, we who care about a woman's right to choose an abortion have reason to be alarmed ? this is a sampling of why:

  • Miers answered "yes" to a question on a 1989 Texans United for Life candidate questionnaire asking "If Congress passes a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit abortion except when it was necessary to prevent the death of the mother, would you actively support its ratification by the Texas Legislature?"

  • Lorlee Bartos, Miers' campaign manager in 1989 when she ran for Dallas City Council, told USA Today that Miers told her she used to be pro-choice, but a "profound, born-again experience" changed her mind — "She is on the extreme end of the anti-choice movement," Bartos said.

  • Nathan Hecht, an ultra-conservative Texas Supreme Court Justice and Miers' on-again, off-again boyfriend, said, "I know she is pro-life. She thinks that after conception, it's not a balancing act — or if it is, it's a balancing of two equal lives." (Washington Post, Oct. 5, 2005)

  • James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who "welcome[s] the president's nomination," said, "Some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about ...I have reason to believe she is pro-life." (New York Times, Oct. 4, 2005; Washington Post , Oct. 4, 2005)

  • President Bush implied during his October 4 press conference that he never sat down and discussed the abortion issue with Miers (though during the last decade he has known her well). Of course, Bush's comment does not pass the laugh test. Remember, Clarence Thomas said he never discussed the abortion issue with anyone before his hearings. Then he promptly cast his vote to overturn Roe.

You may not know that the National Organization for Women testified in favor of the confirmation of Sandra Day O'Connor as the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. We were convinced that, although she was a conservative, she had a basic respect for our fundamental rights.

Today, however, even more is at stake than when Sandra Day O'Connor went on the Court. Today we know that reproductive rights (including access to both birth control and abortion), Title IX equal education opportunities, affirmative action, and equal protection for women under the law could be on the line. With the O'Connor seat as the decisive vote on numerous 5-4 decisions, the public, especially women, deserves to know Harriet Miers' judicial philosophy.

We cannot accept another "kabuki dance" confirmation hearing, as Senator Joe Biden called it, where Senators ask tough questions on Roe v. Wade and the right to privacy, the nominee refuses to answer, and the Senators move on to the next question.

Senators must not only ask tough questions, but they must demand answers on fundamental human rights, especially women's rights, issues. If Harriet Miers will not say where she stands on upholding Roe v. Wade and the right to privacy, or if she is opposed to these rights, NOW and the Feminist Majority are prepared to lead the opposition to her confirmation.

Starting tomorrow, please join us for a series of Speak-Outs for Women's Lives in Washington, DC as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for Miers' confirmation hearings. Speak-Outs will occur on October 26, November 2, and November 10. Briefings will take place at 10am and 12pm on the day of the Speak-Outs (come at 10am or 12pm, whichever works best with your schedule) at the Mott House, 122 Maryland Ave NE, Washington, DC. The first two dates are Wednesdays and November 10 is Thursday of the scheduled hearing week. They are weekdays so you will be able to visit your Senators and stress the importance of knowing Miers' position current on Roe, and urging them to Vote NO if they Don't Know!

We are also encouraging all those who care about women's rights to visit their Senators' district offices or to call their Senators to voice their concerns. (The Senate switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.)

We need you to join us in Washington, DC. Many of you Marched for Women's Lives in April 2004 to sound the alarm that reproductive rights are in jeopardy. It is time to make our voices heard again.

For equality and justice,

Kim's signature

Kim Gandy


National Organization for Women

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