By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The Obama nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen, who called pregnant women “fetal containers” and “losers in the contraceptive lottery,” may be paying the price for her radical abortion stance as Senate leaders say she does not have enough votes for confirmation.
According to a report by LifeNews.com, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Tuesday that he is calling Republican senators to see if he has enough votes to stop a potential filibuster of Johnsen’s nomination. Senate Democrats, who are mostly pro-abortion, would need a handful of votes from Republicans to reach the 60 needed to end debate and allow a vote on confirmation.
“Right now we’re finding out when to do that. I’ve had a number of conversations with some Republicans to find out if we have a couple of Republican votes,” Reid said, according to Roll Call.
“We need a couple Republican votes until we can get to 60,” Reid added. “And it’s just a small number, maybe two or three. But at this stage, I don’t have all the Democrats. I have virtually all, but not all. And remember, we have 59 Democrats, and that’s not enough to do it.”
Reid also acknowledged that a few Democrats, including pro-life Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, may oppose Johnsen’s nomination.
Nelson press secretary Clay Westrope told Roll Call that Nelson “is very concerned” about Johnsen’s nomination and pointed to her tenure with the national pro-abortion group NARAL as part of the problem.
Johnsen is one of the most radical pro-abortion picks of the Obama presidency. A professor at the Indiana University School of Law, she is the former Legal Director for NARAL, one of the nation’s leading abortion advocacy groups. Should she be confirmed as head of the White House Legal Counsel, she will be charged with providing legal advice to the president and other administration officials.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Johnsen in February, where she received a party-line 11-7 vote in favor of moving her nomination to the full Senate. During the hearing, she came under fire for her inflammatory remarks and for equating pro-life groups with the Ku Klux Klan.
Sen. Arlen Specter, who was a Republican at the time, brought up those comments and others she made in a 1989 brief filed in the Supreme Court.
In that brief, Johnsen said that any restriction that makes abortion less accessible is, in her view, tantamount to “involuntary servitude” because it “requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest [in the life of the unborn].”
In effect, a woman “is constantly aware for nine months that her body is not her own: the state has conscripted her body for its own ends.” Such “forced pregnancy,” she contends, violates the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits slavery.
In response to Specter’s criticism, Johnsen dismissed her pregnancy-slavery contention and said it merely came in a footnote in the legal brief. She claims she never “believed the 13th Amendment had any role” in the abortion issue.
However, Specter was not convinced and voted against her nomination at the time. According to Roll Call, he still intends to oppose her nomination despite his recent switch to the Democratic Party.
Contact members of the Senate at http://www.senate.gov and urge strong opposition to Johnsen’s appointment.
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