Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cornelia Pillard's Extreme Views on Abortion

Cornelia Pillard, a Georgetown law professor who President Obama has nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, will appear at a nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.  There can be no doubt that she is a staunch Democrat.  An article reveals that Pillard made significant contributions to Obama’s presidential campaigns and to other Democratic candidates. 

Pillard, like Justice Ginsburg, believes women need abortion to be equal citizens.  In her view, the Equal Protection Clause can and should be used to enshrine the abortion right in the Constitution.  You see, even abortion advocates understand that Roe v. Wade stands on shaky ground and are looking for a way to keep abortion legal, without restriction, forever.  This view is certainly out of the mainstream.

In her 2007 article, she argues that “[a]ntiabortion laws and other restraints on reproductive freedom not only enforce womens’ incubation of unwanted pregnancies, but also prescribe a ‘vision of a woman’s role’ as mother and caretaker of children in a way that is at odds with equal protection.”  Cornelia T. Pillard, Our Other Reproductive Choices: Equality in Sex Education, Contraceptive Access, and Work-Family Policy, 56 Emory L.J. 941, 946 (2007).   

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council calls attention to one of Pillard’s most shocking arguments against the “deceptive images of fetus-as-autonomous-being that the anti-choice movement has popularized since the advent of amniocentesis.” Id. at 990 (emphasis added).  As Americans United for Life’s William Saunders and Mary Harned point out, what is deceptive about an ultrasound? 

Given her extreme views on abortion, as a judge she would likely use the Equal Protection Clause to strike down bipartisan measures to restrict abortion such as parental notification, partial birth abortion, and abortion clinic regulations.  In 2012, she spoke on a panel with Justice Ginsburg, arguing for a stricter level of review of gender-based classifications, which she would apply to abortion regulations.  Cornelia T. Pillard, Nina Totenberg, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Emily Martin, Earl Maltz & Jacqueline A. Berrien, Panel: Reed v. Reed at 40: Equal Protection and Women's Rights, 20 Am. U.J. Gender Soc. Pol'y & L. 315-344 (2012).  This is the end game for Pillard and her fellow feminists: use the Equal Protection Clause to strike down any common sense restriction on abortion.       

As I discussed in my law review note, there is simply no constitutional basis to use the Equal Protection Clause in this manner.  Mary Catherine Wilcox, Why the Equal Protection Clause Cannot ‘Fix’ Abortion Law, 7 Ave Maria L. Rev. 307 (2008).  It flies in the face of Supreme Court precedent, which Pillard has argued against.  Erika Bachiochi also makes this point in her 2011 article and demonstrates that if Pillard had her way, women would be worse off.  Erika Bachiochi, Embodied Equality: Debunking Equal Protection Arguments for Abortion Rights, 34 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 889 (2011). 
In conclusion, Pillard’s own writings demonstrate that she would take judicial activism to a whole new level to impose her liberal feminist views on the rest us.  Let’s hope the Senate Judiciary Committee does not let this happen.

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