The now-infamous NARAL Pro-Choice America television ad against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts has become a lesson in the value of intellectual integrity and the necessity of truth-telling — even in the midst of a contentious political battle. [See my article from Wednesday.] In The New York Times, reporter Linda Greenhouse described the controversy as “the first flashpoint in the three-week-old confirmation process.”
More importantly, she documents the fact that leading pro-abortion figures are distancing themselves from the ad and its blatantly false claims. Frances Kissling of Catholics for Free Choice said, “As a pro-choice person, I don’t like being placed on the defensive by my leaders. Naral should pull it and move on.”
Walter Dellinger, an influential law professor well known for his liberal views, responded as both a former Acting U.S. Solicitor General and as a longtime supporter of NARAL. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dellinger refuted the ad’s claims and said that “it would be regrettable if the only refutation of these assertions about Roberts came from groups opposed to abortion rights.” That statement demonstrates both courage and intellectual integrity — qualities that are required for civic discourse and should be respected wherever they are found.
UPDATE: NARAL announced late on Thursday that it would withdraw the ad. According to a report by Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times, “The advertisement had prompted intense criticism from Republicans, a handful of Democrats, an independent watchdog group called, and even some supporters of abortion rights, who said they felt it was hurting their cause.”