Pro-choice forces cheered Sunday as Vermont Gov. Madeleine M. Kunin made public an unusual plea from 10 state governors urging the U.S. Supreme Court justices to reject restrictions on abortion.
The governors took the stand in a friend-of-the-court brief urging the high court to strike down an Illinois law that they said imposes “extremely burdensome requirements” on abortion clinics.
They asked the court not to shrink from the principle it laid down in the case of Roe vs. Wade in 1973, that a woman has a constitutional right to choose abortion during the first three months of pregnancy.
The amicus curiae brief in the Illinois case, Turnock vs. Ragsdale, was signed by Kunin and Govs. James J. Blanchard of Michigan, Richard F. Celeste of Ohio, Steve Cowper of Alaska, Mario M. Cuomo of New York, Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts, Booth Gardner of Washington, Neil E. Goldschmidt of Oregon, John R. McKernan Jr. of Maine and Roy Romer of Colorado.
McKernan is a Republican; the others are Democrats.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Me.), said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” that if President Bush were to veto added Medicaid funds for abortions, it “would be a tragic mistake on his part. We’re talking here about the poorest, most vulnerable American women, those who have become pregnant after being victims of rape or incest and can’t afford to pay for an abortion.”
Bush has said he is looking for a way to avoid a veto.
In their brief, dropped off at court offices Saturday, the governors said:
“It would be unprecedented for this court, having recognized a fundamental constitutional right, to withdraw that right and throw the abortion issue back into the political arena.”
The governors expressed “concern that the workable and restraining constitutional guidelines that have developed since Roe vs. Wade may yield to laws that discriminate unfairly against large segments of our population, are easily evaded by persons with money or are so widely ignored that evenhanded enforcement becomes impossible.”
The justices are to hear arguments on the Illinois statute, which a federal judge and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals already have struck down, on Dec. 5.
Efforts are under way in Illinois to settle the case before it reaches the high court. Illinois Atty. Gen. Neil F. Hartigan was to meet today with lawyers on both sides of the dispute.