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Webster Case Reaction Varied

By Jay Rogers
Published September 1, 1989

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reaction to the Court’s Webster decision in July, upholding state regulation of abortion was swift and predictable, with pro-life forces declaring victory, and pro-choice advocates mourning defeat.

President George Bush commented on the Court’s Webster ruling through his chief of staff, John H. Sununu. The statement read by Sununu said, “We welcome this decision. By upholding the Missouri statute, the Court appears to have begun to restore to the people the ability to protect the unborn. We continue to believe that Roe vs. Wade was incorrectly decided and should now be reversed.”

Faye Wattleton, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, “This is a sad day for freedom. Now a woman’s access to abortion will become hostage to geography as states enact a patchwork of laws and regulations aimed at blocking abortions. While the Court did not go all the way, they have put in doubt the future of Roe vs. Wade. This decision shows that there are no longer five justices who would uphold that historic ruling.”

Molly Yard, president of the National Organization for Women, condemned the decision as “a total disaster” and “an attempt to dismantle a woman’s fundamental right to privacy and abortion.”

Yard asserted that the Webster ruling is a precursor to a complete ban on abortion rights in the near future. “This is the first of a one-two punch that will completely knock-out abortion rights. The signal from the anti-abortion forces is that they are not stopping with this decision.”

Yard further predicted the outcome of this decision, saying, “The Supreme Court has been stacked with anti-abortion justices. We are only one justice’s vote away from complete reversal of Roe. This decision certainly comes as a blow, but we are prepared, and when we are hit, we always strike back.”

On the pro-life side, Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry stated, “The decision is a mixed blessing. Although the press is making much noise over Roe’s modification, the truth remains that child-killing is still legal. We are now in a state of Constitutional insanity. The Missouri statute declares that human life begins at conception, and yet it is legal to kill those human beings. God help us.”

Terry predicted an “avalanche of legislation which challenges Roe,” and vowed, “We will continue to rescue and use some of our manpower and momentum to introduce legislation which challenges Roe to its face. I am convinced Roe will fall by the end of this presidential term, and child-killing will be driven back to Hell where it came from.”

Dr. J. C. Willke, president of the National Right to Life Committee said, “This historic ruling begins to restore a fundamental right to the American people – the right to protect human life. We are confident that the Court will eventually overturn Roe. We are also confident that the American people have the respect for life and the compassion to act now to stop the widespread killing of human beings.”

Taken from Evangelical Press Association reports and various press statements.


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“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

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