A Right-to-Life Perspective on Alito
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
The progress of Samuel Alito toward a seat on the Supreme Court is being closely followed by both sides of the debate over abortion. Yesterday tens of thousands of anti-abortion protestors gathered in Washington to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Many in the crowd and at the microphone were optimistic. Here's some of what Stephen Peroutka, Chairman of the National Pro-Life Action Center, said:
Mr. STEPHEN G. PEROUTKA (Chairman, National Pro-Life Action Center): If it's not the last march, maybe a couple more, but our next march very well may be the march that celebrates the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
BLOCK: We're going to hear two views on the future of the abortion battle now. First, from Mary Spaulding Balch. She's state legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee. Balch said she's cautiously optimistic about more restrictions on abortion at the state level, but she's not counting on Roe being overturned any time soon.
Ms. MARY SPAULDING BALCH (Director of state legislation, National Right to Life Committee): We will continue to push the same types of legislation that we have been for the last ten years, if not more, in the states where we haven't gotten those protective legislation passed. We will be continuing to push parental involvement laws, for instance, and we will continue to petition or work for women's right to know laws.
BLOCK: When you say women's right to know laws, what do you mean?
Ms. BALCH: Informed consent, where you would -- prior to an abortion, the woman would be given information about alternatives, about risks, about the developing unborn child. That's the type of legislation that was upheld by the Supreme Court in the Casey decision, and that's --many states still do not have that type of protective legislation on the books. And that's what we will continue to push in the states. Will it make a difference if we have a change in the makeup of the Supreme Court? Not immediately, but hopefully in the long term as we see what kinds of decisions the new justices will be making. Right now, we don't - we know what you know.
BLOCK: The justices, in a number of rulings, have stressed the notion of undue burden on the woman and whether restrictions that are passed at the state level have imposed too high a burden. Are you rethinking how you're shaping legislation to address those concerns that the court has brought?
Ms. BALCH: Well, we have reacted to the Supreme Court decisions, and as I said, we are working on women's right to know, slash informed consent type legislation based on what they said we had to do in order to get those laws in place and our laws are drafted to address the holdings in the court.
BLOCK: There is some rhetoric from some in the anti-abortion movement indicating that the time now is moving into a post-Roe future. In other words, sort of already looking ahead to Roe's demise. It sounds like you're saying we're not there yet. That's premature.
Ms. BALCH: Well, I think that it is premature, because it's, I mean, if you want to be simplistic about it, it's a matter of counting. And if you were to count the numbers of votes on the United States Supreme Court, we're not there yet. And I'm not sure when we will be there, but right now we are not. And so realistically speaking, we are trying to move forward, perhaps it's incrementally, but the laws that we are pushing to be passed in the states have been proven to lower the abortion rate, and that's a positive outcome, I think, for all.
BLOCK: That's Mary Spaulding Balch of the National Right to Life Committee.