By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 25, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Conservative U.S. lawmakers today heavily criticized President Obama’s nomination of Dawn Johnsen earlier this year to head the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, especially in light of her years as a radical and controversial pro-abortion activist.

A constitutional law professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Johnsen served for five years as the legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) - now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America - one of the most powerful pro-abortion lobby groups in the country.

Johnsen also served as Staff Counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Reproductive Freedom Project, where she stated that the ACLU’s position on abortion "is that there is no ‘father’ and no ‘child’ - just a fetus." 

In a brief written on behalf of the American Constitution Society last year, Johnsen declared her support for radical judicial activism, stating that "the progressive agenda should focus on the courts as the vehicles for desired change." 

Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-7 to send the Johnsen nomination to the Senate floor for consideration.  The committee’s ranking Republican Sen. Arlen Specter declined to vote, saying he was troubled by Johnsen’s position on abortion and executive power.

"President Obama claims he wants to find common ground on abortion issues, yet this selection is completely contrary to his words," said Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus. "Deeds matter more than words and on abortion this President seems very comfortable with saying one thing and doing another."

Smith was one of 63 Members who signed a letter to Obama today asking him to withdraw the nomination.

"Ms. Johnsen has demonstrated herself to be an extremist, making absurd comments about pregnant women, motherhood and children," Smith said.

"To say that pro-life policies reduce pregnant women to ‘fetal containers’ - as Ms. Johnsen has - is an insult to women everywhere. These comments are dehumanizing and give remarkable insight to a prejudice against motherhood, the family and a fundamental respect for all human life."

Smith criticized Obama for dissolving several legal protections for unborn children within the first two months of taking office.  This includes unleashing U.S. taxpayers money to fund international abortion groups by rescinding the Reagan-era Mexico City Policy, funding the United Nations Population Fund which has been implicated in China’s coercive one-child policy, and rolling back restrictions on funding for human embryo-destroying stem cell experimentation.

In addition, Obama recently ordered a 30-day review of regulations enforcing federal conscience laws protecting the right of health care providers to refuse to participate in abortions and other controversial services on moral grounds.  The regulations have been heavily attacked by the pro-abortion lobby.

"Obama has earned his reputation as the ‘Abortion President,’" Smith said. "It appears that he will go to any lengths to expand abortion access and sees no problem entrusting key posts at the Department of Justice to people who hold radical views like Ms. Johnsen who will promote abortion at any cost."