Snapshot on the Steps of the Supreme Court: Debating Late-Term Abortion

Clusters of umbrellas gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday's rainy DC morning. Advocates from both sides of a controversial issue waited in line to hear the oral arguments in the two cases challenging the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003. On one side of the steps, people from the National Organization of Women marched in support of women's right to late-term abortions. In the middle of the crowd, the supporters of the ban held a press conference. The usual slogans, rhetoric, and graphic signs were in play as everyone waited for the case to begin.

Spirits were high on both sides, despite the huge losses suffered by conservatives in yesterday's elections. Rev. Patrick Mahoney, from Christian Defense Coalition, held a press conference at 9 a.m., which raised a loud ruckus. Decrying the results of the election and blaming Republicans for failing the far-right, he confirmed his community's commitment to conservative principles and values, not to a political party. (I know they won't be supportive of the Democratic Party anytime soon, so where does that leave them?) Rev. Mahoney expressed disappointment in South Dakota, but rallied hope for other states to ban abortion in the future and declared, "Roe v. Wade is crumbling." A couple of vocal pro-choice protestor occasionally interrupted with loud bursts of disagreement.

I did an interesting interview with a woman who carried the sign "My Abortion Hurt Me." Jenny Curd is a Virginia member of Operation Outcry and told me she had three abortions, all of which she now regrets. She explained to me that her abortions caused grief that she did not recognize initially and which she came to terms with much later. In fact, she did not consider herself "pro-life" until after her last abortion. But this was interesting: she didn't use contraception during those times when she got pregnant either. When asked if she wishes the Partial Birth Abortion Act had been passed earlier so that she wouldn't have been able to have the abortions, she reiterated her wish that she hadn't had them, but admitted that she hadn't thought about it in that way… So I guess that even though she's had abortions and protests the concept, she still hadn't thought through not having the right or the access to terminating her unwanted pregnancies when she wanted to. Now that she doesn't have to worry about getting pregnant anymore, she would prevent all other women with unintended pregnancies from having options and control over their own bodies.

That's just one snapshot of what the steps of the Supreme Court looked like today. Analysis will follow in the morning (and we're still hoping to get you that podcast, too…). In the meantime, check SCOTUSblog for transcripts of today's arguments, audio, and commentary. The Washington Post is also talking about it.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact