INTERVIEW: JORDAN RECALLS ABA ABORTION BATTLE
by Scott Bennett    Fri, Oct 14, 2005, 06:13 PM

ABA BATTLE OVER ABORTION ISSUE REVISITED

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Darrell Jordan
The former President of the State Bar of Texas who led the fight to reverse the American Bar Association (ABA) support for abortion rights stated in an interview with DallasBlog.com that the dispute was not about the pro-life versus the pro-abortion rights’ views of its members, but about “the appropriateness of the ABA taking any position on the issue of abortion.”

Darrell E. Jordan is the managing partner of Godwin Gruber, a prominent Dallas law firm. He was the President of the State Bar of Texas back in 1990 when the ABA had just taken a position in support of abortion rights at its Los Angeles convention. According to Jordan , “the position was deeply divisive at the time. Members of the ABA were resigning, including my own law partners and even a number of federal judges. It put the ABA into the category of just another political group.”

When asked if this was a pro-life versus pro-abortion rights matter, Jordan responded: “Absolutely not. We had as many pro-choice supporters as pro-life supporters of the resolution to get the ABA to take a neutral stance on the abortion issue.”

Jordan persuaded the State Bar of Texas to bring forward a resolution at the annual ABA meeting in Chicago calling for the American Bar Association to return to its traditional neutrality on the abortion issue. Almost every attorney active in leadership positions in the Texas Bar at the time supported Jordan ’s position of neutrality on the abortion issue. That included Harriet Miers who would later go on to be the President of the State Bar of Texas herself. While Miers was supportive of his resolution, she wasn’t particularly active in that battle as best Jordan remembers.

Mr. Jordan was successful in getting the ABA to reverse its decision in support of abortion rights at the Chicago meeting, and that position of neutrality remained in place through the 1991 Atlanta national convention.

Soon thereafter, the tide turned against those who wanted the ABA to stay out of the highly charged abortion battle. Abortion rights supporters turned out in large numbers at the 1992 ABA convention, and the ABA adopted a position in favor of “abortion on demand”, a position that, in Jordan ’s words, is “even more liberal than Roe v. Wade.” The ABA has maintained its abortion rights ever since.

While Harriet Miers was not actively engaged in the heated debates over this issue in ABA circles in the early 1990s, she joined most of the Texas Bar Association officials in support of the Jordan position. Jordan strongly supports Harriet Miers’ nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court and has been asked to be available to testify on her behalf before the Senate Judiciary Committee when hearings begin.

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