The Justice Department is "declaring war on the women of this country" by asking the Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 ruling that women have a constitutional right to an abortion, pro-choice and feminist groups said Tuesday.
Leaders of the groups also said that the Justice action last week means there will be "no honeymoon on the issue of abortion" for President-elect George Bush."We are determined that not one woman in America will die or be maimed from a back-alley abortion because George Bush was elected president of the United States," said a visibly angered Molly Yard, president of the National Organization for Women.
"Mr. Bush may intend to make abortion illegal again, but he has to understand that if he tries, he will be awakening a `sleeping giant' " - the millions of women who have had abortions, both before and after the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Yard told a news conference Tuesday.
"There aren't enough jails in America to hold the women who will defy a law that takes away their right to abortion," Yard said. "Neither will they stand by and see their doctors jailed as Bush suggested in his campaign."
Outlining an action plan culminating in a march for women's rights in April 1989, Yard said Tuesday's session was called in response to a Justice Department brief filed last week urging the Supreme Court to hear a Missouri case that could overturn the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Yard characterized the Justice Department action, which was filed just 48 hours after the presidential election and on the last day a brief would be accepted, as "a cynical, despicable trick."
"The action just taken by the Justice Department drew a line in the sand, a line we cannot, and will not ignore," said Yard, adding, "that is declaring war on the women of this country."
"There will be no honeymoon period," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Fund for the Feminist Majority.
Smeal said more direct action was now necessary to move forward on key issues of the feminist agenda because the re-election of 98.5 percent of congressional incumbents on Nov. 8 indicates "both political parties continue to lock women and minorities out."