Archive for Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Status quo at stake

New generation may face abortion questions

November 30, 2005


To some teens, the abortion debate seems far removed from their lives.

"It's just a moral war," said Michael Austin, a Lawrence High School senior. "It's not trying to actually solve a problem."

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up two cases involving legal protections for abortion. And with the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the bench, the court is expected to take a step to the right.

Now a generation that is far removed from the pre-Roe v. Wade world could suddenly - and perhaps reluctantly - land in the center of the issue.

"I think what's likely to happen is any dramatic change (in abortion law) would energize some people," said Rick Levy, a law professor at Kansas University.

Future activism

A recent poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showed 63 percent of adults 18 to 25 believe a woman should have the right to a legal abortion.

But that doesn't mean it's a hot topic for all young adults.

Those entering adulthood this year were born 14 years after 1973's landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which determined women do have a constitutional right to an abortion.

That might help explain why at least some young adults aren't interested in being abortion activists.

From 1994 until this year, KU didn't have a student organization promoting abortion rights.

Joy Lawson, president of the recently formed Students for Reproductive Rights at KU, said she believed the time that has elapsed since the Roe v. Wade decision was one reason why students weren't more vocal.

"The main problem here is a lot of women don't realize what freedom they could lose," Lawson said. "Our generation hasn't seen the botched illegal abortion. It hasn't seen people who are unable to get these services because it's illegal."

"Young people are pretty active on the pro-life side," Levy said. "On the pro-choice side, I think it may be there's not as much energy and activism because the status quo doesn't present as much of a problem for them.

"Another appointment (to the Supreme Court) could mean a vote to overturn Roe. At that point, you might see a mobilization and energizing of the pro-choice movement in much the same way Roe really galvanized religious conservatives and got them interested in politics."

Even on the side opposing abortion rights, which has more to gain with the rekindled abortion debate, young adults haven't rallied as much as some leaders had hoped. Heather Leger, president of Students for Life at KU, said her group has about 250 people on an e-mail listserv but far fewer actively participating in events.

But she expects that to change soon.

"I think it takes something personal for you to get involved," she said. "I think we're getting more to an atmosphere for something to happen. I think it will start to pick up by the end of the year."

Young thoughts

Just because many young adults aren't abortion rights opponents or advocates, that doesn't mean the prospect of a world with Roe v. Wade overturned, where states have the right to ban abortion, hasn't crossed their minds.

Kyle Mendenhall, LHS senior, said he considers himself an abortion rights opponent. Even so, he said he worried that women would continue seeking abortions even if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

"It's safer the way it is now," he said. "It won't change what's going to happen by making it illegal. It's just going to make more unsafe ways of doing it."

Marti McDonald, another LHS senior, agreed.

"It'd be a mess," she said. "People would still be getting them done. They'd just have to go around the lines and get them illegally."

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Kelly Gibson said she thought it should remain legal.

"It shouldn't be your first option," she said. "But it shouldn't be illegal."

'Touchy topic'

In fact, Levy, the KU professor, said it's more likely that the younger generation could be involved in shaping policies about abortion - such as laws governing waiting periods and parental notification - than they would in convincing Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.

At least some young people are ready for their generation to have serious discussions about abortion. But they realize that may be difficult.

"Most people don't want to talk about it," said Leger, the Students for Life president. "They pick sides and they're there. When people are polarized, it takes a lot of talent to talk about this issue without the hatred and ugliness that goes on."

Lawson, the Students for Reproductive Rights leader, agreed.

"I'm not really positive our entire generation is ready to have this conversation," she said, "because it's such a touchy topic."


lunacydetector 12 years, 7 months ago

greenberg, quinlan, rosner, research inc., is a planned parenthood supporter. perhaps an unbiased source for stating polling statistics is in order.

after all, planned parenthood is only in 'it' for the money.

DuQuesne 12 years, 7 months ago

Women should have full, autonomous, and irrevocable rights with regard to their own reproductive health and capacity as soon as they acquire the ability to become pregnant. I am absolutely aghast that anyone has the audacity to openly discuss what rights women shall be allowed and under what conditions. A woman's right to self determination should be inscribed on fine parchment in gold letters, tied up in a velvet ribbon and presented to her upon her approach to adulthood with no questions and no demands. And, as soon as medical science advances sufficiently, a functional uterus should be transplanted into every man who thinks he has anything to say about this issue.

Kookamooka 12 years, 7 months ago

Well put. I have always believed that women rarely CHOOSE abortion. But the CHOICE should be up to them, not the government. What the right wing activitsts should be focussing on are ways for pregnant mothers to make choosing life easier. Better healthcare for uninsured pregnant mothers to ensure their babies are born healthy and remain well cared for. A child who is born into a family that never wanted it to begin with, possibly an already stressed family with limited resources, is often an abused child. Then the child can become part of an even more ghastly future in the foster care system. With the current administration systematically underfunding and dismantleing many social programs designed to help these children, I don't think now is the time to outlaw abortion and stress the system further. Of course, we can't talk rationally about this to conservatives. Women forced to have babies should deposit them on the front steps of the pro-lifers and see how "caring" they are.

craigers 12 years, 7 months ago

If I had the money I would support as many children as possible. However Kookamooka abortion shouldn't be used as a stress reliever for the foster care system. A kid isn't a choice, it is a result from a choice. You say you can't talk about this rationally to conservatives, but where is personal accountability for the pro-choicers? And just because it is an unwanted pregnancy doesn't give people the right to end a life since the child might be subjected to a rough life. There isn't any rationality on the pro-choice side if you ask me. A consequence of sex is the possibility of having a child. You dont' want a child then don't have sex. I think that is pretty simple. I know there are those who try to protect themselves with birth control and other contraceptives but none of them are 100% accurate. However, just because contraceptives don't work all the time doesn't give anybody the right to choose to end a life they started. The baby is innocent in all circumstances and yes I mean all circumstances.

BunE 12 years, 7 months ago

This should be an interesting test for the Supremes, will they be idealogues or will they be jurists?

Given our president's stated desire for a culture of life, I find it ironic that under his leadership, the Republican party has led the charge to reduce medicare and medicaid, consistantly ignores the millions of uninsured children, women and elderly, and then has the nerve to complain about abortion. I guess pro-life only counts as long as the baby is in the womb.

Maybe they need those funds to fight a war and put people to death?

enochville 12 years, 7 months ago

DuQuesne: Women (and men) can have all the rights to do whatever they want to except when it does injury to another living being. My Gosh! This is not about women's rights. It is about other living beings rights to not be destroyed by their parents. Rights are not free licences to kill. Men should be and often are charged with a double homicide if they kill a pregnant woman. Oh, my goodness, we have taken away a man's right. He can't kill his unborn child if he wants to. Horror of horrors. Let's give men a document upon reaching puberty that they can kill their unborn child if they want to as long as they don't kill his or her mother.

Kookamooka and BunE: I support measures to financially support kids who were saved from abortion.

badger 12 years, 7 months ago

Craigers, I am what you'd call a 'pro-choicer' and I'm perfectly rational about it.

I just want to end abortion by educating our youth about sex and sexuality so that they have the tools to make responsible decisions, instead of by outlawing it and driving it underground. When it was illegal, that didn't stop them. It won't stop them if it's illegal again.

One can speak all day about the point at which a 'fetus' or an 'undifferentiated lump of cells' becomes a 'child' but that's just dodging the question of how we will terminate those pregnancies before they begin. Abstinence-only education does not work. Abstinence-free education does not work. I used to teach sex ed at college, and we ended every program with a brief discussion about how condoms are great, and birth control is great, but there is only one sure way to be sure you won't get pregnant or infected with an STI, and that is to simply not engage in any risky behaviours at all, including any form of sex. Education must discuss all the options, and it must stress that abstinence is the only certain way.

However, the 'if you don't want to get pregnant, don't have sex' argument doesn't always hold. Would you say that a husband and wife in financial straits, who cannot afford to bring a child into this world and have no health insurance, should refrain from sex because their birth control might fail? Would you say that if the wife had an illness that rendered pregnancy a life-threatening condition, but her insurance wouldn't cover a tubal ligation before she was 30, or a vasectomy for her husband? Would you say it if the husband had just been genetically tested for Huntington's, and told he had a 50% likelihood of passing that disease on to a child, but still couldn't get coverage for that vasectomy?

It's not just a bunch of irresponsible unwed teen mothers out there getting themselves knocked up on prom night. It affects people in all social strata, men and women, for a vastly different number of reasons, and it's a remarkably complex issue that simple legality or illegality of abortion will have little effect on, ultimately.

craigers 12 years, 7 months ago

Badger, I agree with what you said about the husband and wife not having insurance or money to provide for the child, but I still stand on the side of life. And the other situation where the insurance company won't pay for vasectomy just plain sucks. The insurance would pay for a child to be in the hospital for months and that could happen with more than one child a family, but they won't pay for an out-patient surgery to prevent further expenses for the insurance company. Now that just sucks because the insurance companies have that much power on us. I don't want to see any life ended at all. I know the whole abstinence education doesn't seem to work for people and that really sucks because not only does premuscuity lead to unwanted pregnancies but to the faster spread of STDs. Too many people are simply not careful. Now keep in mind somebody that I think is not careful are those that whether they use protection or not, just continue to sleep with multiple partners but I guess that is a topic to discuss another day and with another article.

As you said on your other post on the street, responsible choices have a great deal to do with it. And it is difficult to get people to be responsible and take the consequences of their choices. Not only does abortion make me angry but the parents that have more children and don't use birth control to try and prevent future pregnancy, when they don't even take care of children they have. Those parents I think if they have a second child and can be proven unfit parents should have surgeries to prevent further reproduction. I feel that if they have had two children, don't care for them or even try for that matter then they shouldn't be allowed to have the option of parenting until at a later age they can prove themselves fit. I know that might cause controversy but if you can't take care of a kid, then at least try and use protection and other birth control. If birth control is as effective as it says, then society could afford to pay for those pregnancies that are legitimate accidents from the birth control failing. I know this would be hard to prove but the idea doesn't sound too bad.

badger 12 years, 7 months ago

I literally shudder at the thought of enforced sterilization of those deemed to be 'unfit' to breed for any reason, physical or social. I agree that they shouldn't have more children if they can't raise the ones they have, but the social step that we would need to take to force them into those surgeries is one from which I believe there's not an easy turning back, and one that too easily becomes government eugenics, and I fear legislated eugenics like I fear little else in this world.

craigers, I (and many other pro-choice advocates) do believe in working towards educating others on personal responsibility. We do sex ed, we support health education that covers reproductive topics. We are advocates for adoption, we work to defend the 'Medicaid for Pregnant Women' (my personal favorite social welfare programs are MPW and Medicaid for Children because they don't hand out actual money, just ensure medical care for folks who need it and can't afford it) program when the Welfare Ax comes calling.

The reason that I come down on the pro-choice side is that I believe that for us to resolve these issues, abortion must remain a viable option until it dies the death of all vestigial medical treatments, no longer needed because the condition it treats just doesn't happen. I'd like to see abortion go the way of the dodo and just die out, and I believe that when it does, its death won't divide the country and end in dead women and children, women sterilized for life by a post-op infection, and women ending up in emergency rooms because they tried to self-abort by drinking an old tea they heard about of pennyroyal, tansy, and rue (with one other ingredient, that's the old midwives' recipe for a 'shedding tea' that's been used for centuries) - all of which can be fatally poisonous in small to moderate dosages.

Morality won't end abortion; education will.

Bradford Hoopes 12 years, 7 months ago

Couldn't we tie the issue of abortion with the death penalty for discussion? As we near our 1000th execution, how can those who are against abortion be FOR the death penalty? Life is life. Perhaps the debate would stop immediately?

badger 12 years, 7 months ago

Theyards, I'm often confused at the reverence for life some people claim who then turn around and vehemently demand the death of another human being - not just agree that it is a just or fitting punishment, but say things like "We should bring back hanging," or "I wish I could pull the switch myself!" There's a disconnect there that I just don't quite get. I think it was Dennis Miller who once said, "Republicans support the death penalty, but oppose abortion. I guess it's all in the timing..."

However, a reasonable argument can be made that if someone has been found guilty of a particularly heinous crime, he has made a set of life choices that brought him to his own execution, and he is in essence responsible for it. Those who believe the life of a human being begins at conception believe that though it is a being independent of its mother spiritually if not physically, it has made no life choices and bears no responsibility for its situation. That's a pretty big divide and not a very good basis for comparison.

I'm not really sure it clarifies or helps the argument any to bring in the death penalty, because they're really very different circumstances.

BunE 12 years, 7 months ago

When does life begin? Some say conception, some say when the implantation occurs, some say upon viability or a new heartbeat, or birth. But no one really knows for sure. When does that spark of selfrealization kick in?

Ah well, not for me to decide.

I tend to think that anything within a human's person is theirs to do with as they see fit. I know we have laws against suicide and smoking crack, and laws against abortion are largely the moral equivalent of those prohibtions, but that does not mean that they are just laws.

Quandry: If Abortion is passed to the states ( that is what will happen) what will consume the national collective freak out? Can pro-lifers stand social injustice or will they act to stamp out poverty finally? Will Pro-choicers support real welfare reform or stand up to the death penalty?

That's a big ol' group of people that will need to get a life.

craigers 12 years, 6 months ago

Badger I know the idea of legislative eugenics is scary. I honestly don't know what else can be done. I know the education route is what everybody desires (me included), but I honestly don't see that curing the situation. Those that don't care about caring for their children, do you feel that they would willingly educate themselves into being more responsible for their actions? As much as I abhor abortion, I don't want women doing it illegally and being more at risk for losing their lives. Like I said life is important for me and I don't want the woman to die either.

I wish more welfare programs were like the ones you spoke of where they give services rather than just money. I would agree with a food stamp program structured a little more like WIC where they designate items that you can get and usually they are to be the cheapest item of that category, thus reducing cost for the taxpayers but giving the needed things to the individual. One thing I find frustrating is when food stamps(Vision) is used for Candy, Starbucks coffee drinks, and other items that people generally don't buy if they don't have money for it. I know there are two options with the Vision cards and I am speaking of the portion of the program where you can only get food. I guess I just get frustrated with the few people that abuse what is given to them and take it for granted in all cases, not just welfare. Sorry for the rant.

jmckean 12 years, 6 months ago

I think people should have a license to reproduce. Have you seen how many ignorant people we have running around these days. People please use condoms if you have an IQ of 12! Thank you and have a wonderful day!

DuQuesne 12 years, 6 months ago

Yes - people should use condoms. I fully support condom use. I always wear a condom. I'm wearing one right now. And yes, I'm dictating these posts.

DuQuesne 12 years, 6 months ago

jmckean raises an interesting point and one that may also be addressed in another thread (is 'thread' the correct term here?) -> there should be some restrictions on who can breed. One result of all the unfettered baby-making we permit is a populace who can't see the sense of natural selection because, by the time their own non-survival attributes remove them from the gene pool, they've reproduced. So, of course it doesn't seem to be a viable theory if they don't see it working on their own species.

DuQuesne 12 years, 6 months ago

Parkay: do you wear that bike helmet because your mommy says you fall down too much?

wonderhorse 12 years, 6 months ago


Please help me out. Where are the pro-choice goon squads that force women to have abortions at the "abortion mill"? I'd like to know, because they are obviously anti-pro-choice and attempting to force their beliefs upon others, and must be stopped.

Harry_Manback 12 years, 6 months ago

I'm only 21, but abortion I still have a strong opinion about abortion, and so do most of my friends. Maybe these younger people don't care, but a lot of them do care. Maybe they should because a good percentage of the women who have them are younger.

blessed3x 12 years, 6 months ago

My concern is the recent trend to allow minors to obtain abortions without parental consent. At my son's school we must sign a waiver at the beginning of the year for him to recieve over the counter or prescription medication which we must provide. If your child breaks his/her arm at school, the school is required to contact you. Why not for abortion? This is an invasive procedure that can have strong physical and emotional consequences. Why isn't this procedure treated like any other medical procedure in regards to parental notification and permission? Aren't the parents ultimately responsible for the health and well-being of their children? What gives anyone else the right to circumvent this?

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