Question-and-Answer Session

Article excerpt

The following is a transcript of the question-and-answer session that concluded the Albany Law Review Annual Symposium, held on November 5, 1998. Panel participants included Professor David Garrow, Professor Eileen McDonagh, Lynn Paltrow, Professor Lynn Wardle, and Sarah Weddington, and was moderated by Professor Katheryn Katz of Albany Law School.

QUESTION: My question is for Professor Wardle. At the outset of your talk, you emphasized the importance of a free exchange of differing viewpoints--particularly in an academic atmosphere such as this. Do you think that a panel composed of four speaking for the pro-choice movement and one speaking for the pro-life movement really promotes the free exchange of ideas?

WARDLE: You know what, I am going to have to defend the sponsors of this and say yes. I've written about abortion for 20 years. I have published two books and probably a dozen law review articles. This is the first time that I have been invited to participate in a symposium on the subject outside of my own university. There just aren't, in academia, many people. The taboo against criticizing Roe is pretty strong. So the fact that they would invite me is, I think, a credit to the sponsors of this Symposium. You just can't find people in academia to take the other point of view. Twenty years I have written about this, and this is the first time I've been invited to speak about the issues, outside of Utah.

QUESTION: But what about Professor Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, Judge Robert Bork, or Professor Doug Kmiec from Notre Dame Law School?

WARDLE: You've got a list of probably 30 or 40 on one hand and you could probably come up with 3000 or 4000 on the other side.

QUESTION: That says something about the atmosphere in academia, though.

WARDLE: It does, and I appreciate your sentiment but I think that this conference, compared to the standards that I become familiar with over the past twenty years, is remarkable and I am very grateful for their invitation. There certainly is more that could be said about the issue.

I want to say one more thing. The efforts to suppress pro-life free speech that I am concerned about are less the lack of invitation. They are incidents such as denying pro-life groups the right to use library rooms that are open to all other organizations. Denying them booths at state fairs that all other organizations have. Arresting them for holding up pictures of aborted fetuses. Arresting them for child pornography. A court in New York, until overturned on appeal, and a court in Washington, affirmed by the Washington Supreme Court, forbidding protesters to use the words "kill" or "murder" in their speech. Vermont charging a printer with violation of anti-discrimination laws because he, a pro-life printer, refused to print pro-choice pamphlets. Arresting a minister in Vermont who holds up a sign that says "Abortion is the silent holocaust." Arresting him for disorderly conduct because of that. Three hundred foot bubble zones. Forcing abortion protesters across six-lane highways from a clinic. We are not talking about the disruptive people but the people who just want to talk to women going into clinics, no touching, no yelling, no harassing. The sidewalk counseling kind of things--sorry, you have to be 300 feet away. The Supreme Court strikes down 300-foot bubble zones but they are still being enacted. Floating bubble zones still are being enacted even though the Court has struck them down. I'm concerned.

QUESTION: I would like to respond to what Professor Wardle said. I am an escort for Planned Parenthood in Schenectady, New York. We do not have a bubble zone. When I walked into work two Saturdays ago there were twenty-seven protesters. We were three escorts. The protesters carried signs. They prayed. They threw salt on the sidewalk. They sprinkled water on me to exorcise the demons in me. They called me a racist as I escorted African-American women in for legal services. …