(PRESS RELEASE) The Center for Reproductive Rights commends Justice John Paul Stevens for a distinguished career and congratulates him on his retirement. Over the course of his long tenure on the Court, Justice Stevens was a crucial leader in protecting civil liberties and equal rights. Joining the Court after the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), Justice Stevens understood that a woman’s right to access abortion is fundamentally tied to both her dignity and her right to protect her life and health.
“With his departure, we lose a champion for women’s rights on the Court. It is imperative that President Obama nominate a candidate whose commitment to Roe v. Wade is just as strong and evident as Justice Stevens. As an example of his strong jurisprudence, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Justice Stevens would have gone further than the majority and struck down Pennsylvania’s 24-hour waiting period and biased counseling requirements. He also dissented in Harris v. McRae, where he would have struck down the discriminatory Hyde amendment as unconstitutional, because it restricts federal funding of abortion for low-income women and therefore ‘causes serious harm’ and ‘is tantamount to severe punishment.’
“We are carefully evaluating potential nominees to ensure their commitment to the constitutional principles in Roe v. Wade. Because continuing protections for abortion rights could hang in the balance, it’s essential that the Kabuki dance around constitutional protection for abortion rights does not prevent a full examination of the eventual nominee’s position on this critical issue.
“As healthcare reform is implemented and the implications of the Nelson Amendment for women’s access to abortion unfold, the Center stands with the women of America in our dedication to ensuring a Supreme Court that reflects our constitutional tradition and its respect for both precedent and the equality of women.”