June 11, 2010
In an op-ed in today's Washington Post (Restoring Leadership and Integrity to the Office of Legal Counsel), President Obama's former nominee to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel Dawn Johnsen writes that "There is no simple answer to why my nomination failed." However, she argues that her "torture memo" regarding the Bush Administration's position on handling terrorists was essential to the collapse of her attempted appointment.
Perhaps her view of the way to treat combatant prisoners was a source of consternation to conservatives. But there is another reason why ultimately she withdrew her nomination: Ms. Johnsen is a pro-abortion zealot, and a sufficient number of pro-life Senators found her views outside the mainstream that she finally gave up her more than 14 month effort to achieve Senate confirmation.
Ms. Johnsen began her career working as Legal Director of the National Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League (currently NARAL Pro-Choice America). Her affinity for abortion at any time and for any reason is clearly documented. Consider a few choice (pun intended) quotes:
"Granting rights to fetuses in a manner that conflicts with womens autonomy reinforces the tradition of disadvantaging women on the basis of their reproductive capability. By subjecting womens decisions and actions during pregnancy to judicial review, the state simultaneously questions womens abilities and seizes womens rights to make decisions essential to their very personhood. The rationale behind using fetal rights laws to control the actions of women during pregnancy is strikingly similar to that used in the past to exclude women from the paid labor force and to confine them to the 'private' sphere." -- Dawn Johnsen, The Creation of Fetal Rights, 95 Yale Law Journal, 624-25.
To clarify: In Ms. Johnsen's view, women's autonomy (her ability to do whatever she wants with her body) trumps any possibility that the unborn child she is carrying has value independent of her mother and merits legal protection as a living person.
Here's another gem:
In practice, both consent and notification laws amount to a parental veto power over a minors decision to an abortion. Do not, as part of an affirmative legislative strategy, introduce even a liberalized version of a parental consent or notification law. -- Internal NARAL memo quoted in William Saletan, Bearing Right, p. 289 (Memo, Dawn Johnsen and Marcy Wilder to NARAL Staff and Consultants, Pro-Choice Legislative Strategy for Minors Access to Abortion Services, 9/5/89)
To clarify: Parents are not to know if their minor daughters have a major medical procedure that could permanently alter their lives. One can only wonder if parents should, in Ms. Johnsens view, be informed of such things as their childrens heroin addiction, membership in the KKK or attendance at a satanic worship service. Or even, as under current law, if the school nurse gives them aspirin.
One more: Ms. Johnsen wrote in a legal brief (Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 , signed by the National Womens Law Center) that requiring a woman to carry a child to term is disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude.
Ms. Johnsen would be quite right if pregnancy was merely a physical burden similar to a sack of potatoes belted around ones waist. She is quite wrong, however, because pregnancy is the carrying of a distinct person within ones womb, the most sacred of trusts, the most noble of callings.
We can be grateful that a person of Ms. Johnsens dark moral vision is not working in the federal government. Given her view of the unborn, for her to dispense justice would be a virtual oxymoron.