Pro-choicers on Ayotte, Take 2

Nancy Keenan of NARAL says yesterday's Supreme Court decision was a severe blow to women's reproductive freedom.

Published January 19, 2006 6:34PM (EST)

Yesterday, in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Broadsheet reported that some optimistic-minded abortion advocates, like Jennifer Dalven, deputy director of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, had found a silver lining in the court's response, calling it a sign to "politicians that they cannot jeopardize women's health when they pass abortion laws."

But it seems not everyone can agree that the Ayotte glass is half full. In a press release that arrived in Broadsheet's mailbox later in the day, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, took a more critical stance. "While it is certainly heartening that the Court did not use this case to overturn specific precedents that protect women's health, this decision does mark a departure from prior cases," she writes. "In the past, abortion restrictions that did not include protection for women's health would have been struck down in their entirety. After today's decision, that is no longer the case."

Still, whether optimist or pessimist, Keenan brings up one point no pro-choice person could argue with: The case is "a stark reminder of the courts' role in either protecting or undermining the core principles of women's reproductive freedom."

By Sarah Karnasiewicz

Sarah Karnasiewicz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Until recently, she was senior editor at Saveur magazine; prior to that she was deputy Life editor at Salon. She has contributed to the New York Times, the New York Observer and Rolling Stone, among other publications. For more of her work, visit and Signs and Wonders.

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