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Key Excerpt: Coburn and Sotomayor on Abortion

Courtesy of CQ Transcriptions

What part of the exchange:

SEN. COBURN: You've been asked a lot of questions about abortion. And you've said that Roe v. Wade is settled law. Where are we today? What is the settled law in America about abortion?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: I can speak to what the court has set in its precedent. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court reaffirmed the core holding of Roe v. Wade that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy in certain circumstances. In Casey, the court announced that, in reviewing state regulations that may apply to that right that the court considers whether that regulation has an undue burden on the woman's constitutional right.

That is my understanding of what the state of the law is.

COBURN: Well, let me give you a couple of cases. Let's say I'm 38 weeks pregnant and we discover a small spina bifida sack on the lower sacrum, the lower part of the back on my baby. And I feel like I just can't handle a child with that. Would it be legal in this country to terminate that child's life?

SOTOMAYOR: I can't answer that question in the abstract because I would have to look at what the state of the state's law was on that question and what the state said with respect to that issue.

I can say that the question of the number of weeks that a woman is pregnant has been -- that approach to look at a woman's (inaudible) was changed by Casey. The question is: Is the state regulation regulating what a woman does an undue burden?

And so I can't answer your hypothetical because I can't look at it as an abstract without knowing what state laws exist on this issue or not. And even if I knew that, I probably

couldn't opine because I'm sure that situation might well is rise before the court.

Read the entire exchange between Sen. Coburn and Judge Sotomayor here.

By Washington Post editors  |  July 15, 2009; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  Hearings , Supreme Court , Topics: Abortion  
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