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Archive for Saturday, January 20, 2001

ANTI-ABORTION ISSUES CONVERGING

January 20, 2001

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Right-to-life advocates are hoping that they will translate into increased opposition to abortion. It's a situation that has abortion providers and advocates worried.

"We're certainly enthused about the fact that (Bush) is going to be our president.'' Joan Hawkins, executive director of Kansas Right to Life, said Friday.

The group, the largest anti-abortion organization in the state, plans several activities in the next few days, including rallies in Topeka, Overland Park and Wichita.

Hawkins said the group's Johnson County affiliate is sponsoring a prayer vigil in Lawrence in front of Dr. Kristin Neuhaus' clinic on Monday, the 28th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision. Neuhaus is one of the few doctors in Kansas who perform abortions.

Neuhaus' husband, Mike Caddell, who is head of security at the clinic, declined to say what, if any, extra security precautions he would take.

But, he said that Dr. George Tiller's clinic in Wichita appeared to be beefing up its security. Tiller is one of a handful of doctors in the country who perform late-term abortions.

"Usually the people who can't travel to Washington, D.C., they hang around the clinics,'' Caddell said.

Mary Jane Miller, a registered nurse and office manager of Planned Parenthood of Mid-Missouri and Eastern Kansas, said rallies and protests were expected around the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

Miller said she didn't expect any problems at the family planning clinic in Lawrence.

"We have security measures in place all the time. We won't have anything extra,'' she said.

Aside from the inauguration of Bush, who opposes abortion, thousands will gather in Washington this weekend for the anti-abortion March for Life on Monday, which will pass by the U.S. Supreme Court building.

On Friday, more than 100 Kansas University students attended Mass at St. Lawrence Catholic Center, then boarded two buses bound for Washington to participate in the march.

Tom Moreland, a KU senior majoring in community health, said abortion is being discussed more on campus.

"It has been a huge issue recently,'' Moreland said, fueled by Bush's nomination of Ashcroft, a strong anti-abortion advocate, to become attorney general, and last year's Supreme Court decision that struck down a Nebraska law prohibiting so-called partial-birth abortions.

Moreland said his views against abortion are in the minority at KU.

Matthew Kemnitz, social and justice outreach minister at St. Lawrence, said more than twice as many students are making the trip to Washington this year than last.

Students are increasingly wanting to act on their beliefs, Kemnitz said. "It's very spiritual that human dignity of a person has to be acted upon and not just thought about."

-- Staff writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at 832-7221.

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