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Democrats Assail Bush's Opposition to Abortion Before Key Women's Group

Presidential hopefuls warn women at Emily's List forum that GOP chief executive's court appointments threaten reproductive rights.

May 21, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidates, courting some of their party's most powerful women, on Tuesday warned that another four years of President Bush could tip the balance on the U.S. Supreme Court and undermine a woman's right to abortion.

"Some of these judges that come out of the White House, they will take your rights away," Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina told Emily's List, a political group that recruits and funds Democratic female candidates who favor abortion rights.

In a testament to the influence of Emily's List and female voters, seven of the nine declared candidates accepted invitations to address the group. Each cast himself or herself as the harshest critic of Bush's record and policies, including his opposition to abortion rights.

"We don't need a second Republican Party," said Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.

Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the only woman in the field, said: "If George W. Bush gets reelected, you can be about certain that in six years, Roe vs. Wade will be gone."

That 1973 decision legalized abortion. Legal experts believe the high court is split on abortion, and may soon have vacancies to be filled by the president. The Democratic candidates say they favor the right for women to obtain an abortion, although Reps. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio have voted for legislation during their years in the House that would impose some restrictions on abortions.

In a dig at those two rivals, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut said: "I have been pro-choice my entire career."

Kerry and the others also questioned Bush's efforts to curb terrorism and restore order to Iraq. "When you see Al Qaeda coming back, that is the price we pay for taking our eye off the ball," said former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who opposed the war.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Sen. Bob Graham of Florida did not participate in the event.

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