As Annie noted earlier this morning, the public knows next-to-nothing about where president Obama's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, stands on major constitutional issues. For liberal women, Kagan's nomination can be a particularly mixed bag. Her confirmation would mean the high court would have three women—out of nine justices—ruling for the first time, a landmark scenario that already has female judges cheering. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg believes that abortion and childbirth should receive equal public funding. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has said that women deserve a constitutional right to privacy. However, women know next-to-nothing about Kagan's stance on these issues.
Which is why NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is urging residents to write to Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to ensure Kagan is thoroughly questioned about women's privacy rights.
"We want to know her position on Roe [vs. Wade]," says NARAL Pro-Choice Washington executive director Lauren Simonds. "Her nomination is historic, and exciting, but the right to privacy isn’t an abstract legal theory, it’s our right to make personal decisions without interference from the government. We want some clear answers about a woman’s right to choose."
Meanwhile, Kristen Glundberg-Prosser, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Western Washington, says that the simple fact that President Obama nominated Kagan bodes well in her favor. "The president believes in upholding women's privacy rights," she says. "He holds a lot of credibility with us."
"And we think she’s a real trail blazer," Glundberg-Prosser adds, referring to Kagan's record as the first female U.S. Solicitor General and the first female dean of Harvard Law School. "So we hope she has a commitment to protect our individual liberties."
Glundberg-Prosser says Planned Parenthood is waiting—along with everyone else—to hear Kagan's explicit thoughts on women's reproductive rights. In the meantime, she says, women have the right to be cautiously optimistic going into Kagan's confirmation hearing.