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anolting's MyC-SPAN

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    Webster v. Reproductive Health Services Oral Arguments

    Attorneys made oral arguments in the 1989 case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. Then Missouri Attorney General William Webster argued the case for the respondents. Frank Susman argued the case for the petitioners. Charles Fried argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae.

    In 1986, the state of Missouri enacted legislation that placed a number of restrictions on abortions. The statute’s preamble indicated that “the life of each human being begins at conception,” and the law codified the following restrictions: public employees and public facilities were not to be used in performing or assisting abortions unnecessary to save the mother’s life; encouragement and counseling to have abortions was prohibited; and physicians were to perform viability tests upon women in their twentieth (or more) week of pregnancy. Lower courts struck down the restrictions.

    The question being argued was if the Missouri restrictions unconstitutionally infringe upon the right to privacy or the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    This program contains audio of the court with still images of participants as they spoke.

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    Missouri Gubernatorial Debate

    Lt. Gov. Carnahan and Mr. Webster, gubernatorial candidates in Missouri, participated in a televised debate. Mr. Webster’s name was listed as the appellant in the 1989 Supreme Court ruling upholding the Missouri statute that restricted abortion rights. The two men sat at separate podia to respond to questions previously submitted by the Community Issues Coalition and questions from telephone callers.

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    Supreme Court Review

    The Court heard oral arguments in a right-to-die case, Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health. A car accident left Ms. Cruzan in a coma. Her parents seek the right to withhold food and water from her, and act the state will not allow. An interview with her father, Joe Cruzan, is shown in footage.