11/02/2005 - Of all the opinions that Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. has handed down during 15 years on the federal bench, the one drawing the most attention since his nomination to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court is his support in a 1991 case for a provision in a Pennsylvania law that required women, with few exceptions, to notify their husbands before they could have an abortion.
Judge Alito was at odds both with his fellows judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals and, ultimately, with the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1992 that the spousal notification provision placed an undue burden on women and was therefore unconstitutional.
But while Alito's view did not prevail in courts of law, it fares much better in the court of public opinion. Surveys taken since 1992 have consistently shown that the public supports the spousal notification provision by lopsided margins of nearly three-to-one.
The strong public support for spousal notification is part of a complex, cross-cutting pattern of public opinion on abortion-related issues. By more than two-to-one (65%-29% in a July 2005 Pew survey) the public opposes overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman's right to an abortion. But at the same time it also strongly favors an array of restrictions on abortion—including mandatory waiting periods, parental consent for minors seeking an abortion; spousal notification for married women seeking an abortion; and a prohibition on late term abortions.
Read full commentary Public Opinion Supports Alito on Spousal Notification Even as It Favors Roe v. Wade on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.