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Justice: If Roe falls, abortions continue

By Greg Bluestein
Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Sunday that even if the court’s Roe v. Wade decision is reversed, it has paved the way for permanent women’s access to abortion.

She compared abortion statutes to divorce requirements that differ by state, saying that women able to afford train or plane tickets could still access abortion in states that legalize the practice.

“I do not believe the court’s overruling Roe v. Wade — which I don’t think will happen — will prevent women of means from accessing an abortion,” Ginsburg told a crowd of about 500 at Atlanta’s Ahavath Achim synagogue. “It will have a devastating impact on poor women.”

Divisive issues such as abortion underscore the need for a strong and vigorous minority, especially with the recent rightward tilt of the nine-member court, said Ginsburg, the court’s only female justice.

She said some dissents are aimed at swaying the opinions of her fellow judges while others are “an appeal to the intelligence of another day” in the hopes that it will provide guidance to future courts.

“Hope springs eternal and when I am writing a dissent, I’m always hoping for that fifth or sixth vote — even though I’m disappointed more often than not,” she said.

After giving only six oral dissents over 13 years on the court, Ginsburg issued two last term. This shift led court observers to contend that Ginsburg last term found her voice and used it, which she said was news to those who knew her.

“That appraisal surprised my husband,” she said to laughter.

She said Chief Justice John Roberts’ hopes to build more consensus among the court seemed “off the mark” in the last term, in which one-third of the cases were decided by a single vote.

Although she said she hopes the latest court term, which began this month, will be less divided, she said she will be no less aggressive.

“I will continue to dissent if in my judgment the court veers in the wrong direction when important issues are at stake,” she said.

She also recalled the frustration of failing to land a job in New York after graduating in 1959 at the top of her law school class.

She said she had “three strikes against her” for being Jewish, female and a mother.

But she said she’s had more than her share of “mazel” — the Hebrew word for luck — to help get her where she is today.

“Suppose there had been a Wall Street firm interested in hiring me? What would I be today?” she intoned. “A retired partner.”

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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