Those who believe in choice knew the day would come when President Bush stood beside a Supreme Court nominee, and we would cross our legs...

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Those who believe in choice knew the day would come when President Bush stood beside a Supreme Court nominee, and we would cross our legs a little tighter.

The makeup of the high court means different things to people. But to women, well, it can mean our very lives. If we have an unexpected pregnancy, we can have a safe and legal abortion. It’s a choice we’ve had for 32 years now, but nothing we can ever take for granted. No chair we can ever settle into, no Sure Thing.

John Roberts Jr. may be the perfect example of why.

For while the federal appeals court judge is thought to be a brilliant litigator, and both political parties appreciate his legal knowledge, there is this:

While working as deputy solicitor general for the first Bush administration, Roberts signed a brief that said Roe v. Wade had been “wrongly decided and should be overruled.”

Then, two years ago, during his confirmation hearings for his federal appellate court seat, Roberts refused to discuss his own opinion of the law that makes abortion legal.

“He certainly is the stealth candidate,” said Marcy Bloom of the Aradia Women’s Health Center in Seattle.

I tried to glean something about Roberts by looking at the front-page photo of his wife, Jane, who stood in a pink suit.

But other women — pro-choice groups — weren’t so hard to read. They weighed in on Roberts immediately, which is a little like tackling the quarterback before the snap.

But you know us women: We’re always prepared for the worst. It’s why we carry Band-Aids in our purses. We usually need them.

Government has been chipping away at women’s freedoms for years now. In 1992, the Supreme Court modified Roe v. Wade by saying that states could place restrictions on abortions.

The states were free to propose abortion delays, parental-consent laws and cutting off access to women with government-funded health insurance. In all, some 335 restrictions on abortion have been enacted since 1995, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America. Three of the nine justices — Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and William Rehnquist — have voted to abandon Roe v. Wade.

Roberts could very well serve as a one-man cavalry, who could help bring down a woman’s right to her own body. The irony is that at the same time it has been putting limits on abortion, government has made unwanted pregnancy more likely by cutting money for family planning — right down to birth control for federal employees.

If I sound like Chicken Little, it’s not because our sky is falling; it’s that our horizons aren’t as wide as they once were.

In announcing Roberts’ nomination, Bush noted that the judge has “a profound respect for the liberties guaranteed to every citizen.”

Every citizen.

If there is a Justice John Roberts Jr., let’s hold him to that — and cross our fingers, too.

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

She is hardly out of steam.