Sen. Al Franken warned pro-choice supporters Tuesday that the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision may not be in good hands with the Roberts Court.
"I fear that this court and the anti-choice activists are happy to adopt an incremental strategy that makes it harder for you to marshal your forces," Franken told members of NARAL Pro-Choice America at a luncheon commemorating the 37th anniversary of the decision. "They're happy to keep chipping away again and again at abortion rights in a way that the American people may not even notice."
The luncheon also included a tribute to Kansas abortion provider George Tiller, who was killed last year. Scott Roeder was convicted of the murder late last week.
Franken said Chief Justice John Roberts, particularly, has broken with the promises he stated in Congressional confirmation hearings that he would not legislate from the bench, and that the Roe v. Wade decision was in danger.
"We saw the Roberts court reject the long-standing precedent that an exception for a woman's health must be a component for any laws that restrict abortion rights, even when the woman's health includes her reproductive health," Franken said. "That's what Dr. Tiller did so often in his work, perform abortions on fetuses that would not be viable outside the womb in order to protect a woman's ability to bear children in the future. Ironically, what could be more pro-life?"
The Minnesota senator urged those at the luncheon to be on their guard.
According to NARAL Pro-Choice America communications director Ted Miller, the pro-choice group wanted Franken to speak at last year's luncheon, but he was unable to do so because of the election recount. Nancy Keenan, president of the pro-choice group, campaigned with Franken and the group endorsed him in the 2008 election.
Although Franken took some flak from women's rights groups over an article he wrote for Playboy magazine in 2000, NARAL Pro-Choice America is a strong Franken supporter. Miller said the organization was impressed by Franken's "clear pro-choice record and pro-choice values," such as a bill Franken authored and co-sponsored in December 2009 that would require emergency contraception be available to all women in the military. Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican senator from Maine, co-sponsored the bill.
Sen. Al Franken was the keynote speaker at NARAL Pro-Choice's annual luncheon commemorating the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
Hayley Tsukayama is an intern at the Star Tribune's Washington bureau.