With a stanch record against abortion rights during her term on the Texas Supreme Court, Justice Priscilla Owen – President Bush’s ultra conservative nominee for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals – is slated to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. Owen is expected to be closely questioned about her dissenting opinions in cases involving a Texas law that allows teenagers to seek the court’s permission for an abortion without having to tell their parents, the New York Times reported. Owen has been called too ideologically far to the right by even her conservative colleagues – one specific opinion in which she attempted to infuse the parental notification law with her own conservative standards was characterized by White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, who served with Owen on the Texas court, as “an unconscionable act of judicial activism.”
As a member of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Owen could substantially increase regulations in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas for women seeking abortions. Expressing concerns that she could seriously jeopardize a women’s right to choose, the National Abortion Federation and People for the American Way join the Feminist Majority in opposing Owen. The National Abortion and Reproductive Action League (NARAL), National Organization for Women (NOW) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America have also expressed concerns about Owen’s record on reproductive rights.