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February 04, 1970 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-02-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Seventy-nine years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan

Abortion counseling: An ethical dilemma

) Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich,

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers'
or the editors. This must be noted in al reprints.

The case for pass-fail

PHE UNIVERSITY'S present system of
grading is unfair, inaccurate and un-
necessary. Rather than motivatinng stu-
dents, grades as now given tend to stifle
the free exchange of thoughts and ideas
that should be the goal of a university
It is no secret to most students that the
grading system is inequitable. Grade-
points in certain areas consistently vary
with University-wide averages. In the en-
gineering- college and physical sciences,
for example, grades are consistently low-
er than the literary college average.
Furthermore, within particular depart-,
ments there are significant differences
in the difficulty of tests, homework and
papers assigned by various professors and
the standards applied to them. In certain
courses even the choice of a teaching
fellow can make a difference in a stu-
dent's grade.+
IF THE GRADING 'system is unfair, it
is also imprecise. With course grades
partially determined by the subject area,
professor and teaching fellow assignment,
they are not an accurate evaluation of a
student's capabilities. -
Letter-grades themselves are but broad,
general categories, often subjectively de-
termined. Although grade point averages
are calculated to the third decimal place,
students with a B, for example, have a
wide range of competence and the differ-
ence between a B and an A or C is nil in
many cases.
The present grading system is not sac-
red. There are a number of alternative
proposals that have been devised over the
years. The best of these is the pass-fail
One concept of pass-fail is a procedure
where students attend regular sections of
a course, taking the same tests and writ-
ing the same papers as students not on
pass-fail. At the end of the semester,
the instructor gives a pass to those stu-
dents he judges to have achieved C or
above performance.
ASS-FAIL HAS a number of advant-
ages over the present system. First,
such a pass-fail procedure is voluntary,
leaving the option ;of traditional grading
open to the student. This is philosophi-
cally consistent with the belief that stu--
:ents should have maximum freedom over
their own affairs.
Pass-fail also eliminates many of the
inequities inherent in any grading situa-
RS~r1 .

tion by not attempting to rigidly rank-
order people down to the third decimal
place. While some judgment still has to
be made over a student's competence, one
decision is better than placing students
in five arbitrary categories.
Furthermore, pass-fail provides a mo-
tivational component, a factor often men-
tioned by defenders of the present sys-
tem. Students have to do a certain
amount of work to receive a pass. Addi-
tional motivation comes from a desire to
learn and understand-ideally the reason
why people attend universities.
systein provides an evaluative cap-
ability, something often lacking in pro-
posals that abolish grading completely.
With a pass-fail procedure students re-
ceive significant feedback from tests,
papers and hopefully some individual
evaluation by instructors.
The pass-fail proposal. also takes some
of the unnecessary pressure of grades off
students. Such a step would allow stu-
dents to take more diverse courses and
make sure that free inquiry is not hamp-
ered by fear of teacher reaction to un-
popular opinions or experimental ap-
proaches to course material.
Finally the pass-fail system is emi-
nently practical. It does not require large-
scale modifications in University proced-
ures, radical changes in curricula or large
sums of money. Business and graduate
schools are increasingly more concerned
with recommendations, previous work ex-
perience and entrance examinations than
grade-point averages.
committee will soon discuss the Uni-
versity's grading system. The present
system is unbelievably bankrupt and
could advantageously be changed to a
pass-fail system.
As a first step, students should be al-
lowed to take all courses for distribution
requirements pass-fail next semester. In
addition, departments should be allowed
to run introductory courses on a pass-
fail basis if they desire. The economics
department has already requested than
Econ 201-202 be taught pass-fail.
The present grading system is a cor-
rupt remnant of the past. As, the Univer-
, sity enters a new decade, it should $ free
itself from the shackles of this inequit-
able, unnecessary system. t
'per handn

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day, womren call
the obstetrics and 0yneacology departments
of the nation's hospitals seeking help in
getting an abortion. Before abortions are
given, however, doctors have to make complex
decisions based on the law, their consciences,
their Hippocratic Oath, and their medical
competence. For a look at how an obstetric-
ian views the abortion contrversy, Daily night
editor Jim Neubacher interviewed a physician
on the staff of the University'stWomen's
Hospital. The physician asked to remain
(fourth in a series)
Why does a doctor risk his career and
his reputation by even considering recom-
mending an illegal abortion to a patient?
"I really have the feeling that with the
population pressure being what it is, and
the speed with which we are destroying
our environment, no baby ought to be
brought into the world unless he's very
badly wanted," the doctor says.
But this does not mean that he recom-
mends abortions for every woman who vis-
its him. He operates on a private philoso-
phy, and emphasizes that he d a e s not
speak for the other members of his de-
partment = some of whom are more lib-
eral, some more conservative -- on the
abortion issue.
For this doctor, each case is considered
on its own merits.
"Let's take the example of conception
by rape, when the mother is 12 or 13 years
old. I have no trouble with my conscience
here. You're on the side of the angels in
this case." he says.
But even in such clear-cut cases, this
doctor does n o t enjoy participating in
abortion-in any capacity.
"I always wish that someone else would
have gotten the case. I always feel un-
easy and unhappy about playing a part in
destroying that pregnancy," he says.
"It's not even because of a profound
concern for the hereafter," he continues,
"but rather, the biologist's concern for the
human physiology and a fascination and
excitement with the whole process of re-
When the doctor decides to recommend
abortion, even in such a "clear-cut" case,
he uses "as a comfortable rationalization"
the thought that there is a good chance
that the pregnancy will abort on its own.
"About 10 to 12 per cent of all pregnan-
cies do t h i s before three- months," he
points out.
Despite this assurance, the doctor can-
not escape the feeling of uneasiness, be-
cause unlike some of his colleagues (and
like many of the others), he believes that

an abortion is destruction of a human life.
"I feel, in fact, that the life has begun
when successful implantation has occurred
and when the hormones that show up in a
pregnancy test are produced," he says. It
is this belief that makes the decision, (even
in the case of the 12 year old girl pregnant
by incest or rape) a tough process. And
most cases that come to him are usually
even tougher.
"The woman with many children who
has pregnancy because of a bonafide fail-
ure of a responsible contraceptive pro-
gram, she, for me, is pretty easy. The risk
of pregnancy goes up at the fifth or sixth
child," he explains.
On the other hand, the doctor says,
there is the young married woman who re-
gards pregnancy at the present time as
"inconvenient." "She is at the other end of
the spectrum for me," he says.
The doctor realizes, however, the differ-
ence between a woman who feels that her
pregnancy is inconvenient and the woman
who fears her pregnancy as a result of a
"very real psychopathology."
"In that case," he says, "my rationaliza-
tion is that it is the baby I'm concerned
about. It's wiser if it's not brought into
the world. There are more ways of killing
a person than one."
"The young unmarried woman, I am
even more unsympathetic toward," he
adds. "They are often pretty damn irre-
sponsible. It's possible to be quite reliably
protected against that form of pregnancy.
I get real negative about these women."
He explained that he makes an excep-
tion when he can discern that pregnancy
resulted despite the attempt by the un-
married w o m a n to maintain a reliable
contraceptive program. However, he says
he is "quite skeptical about this story,"
and says he goes to "great pains to check
it out." If his findings correlate with the
patients story, then he acts.
"When I'm really satisfied t h a t this
seems to be the best of some bad choices,
I attempt to identify for her an abortion-
istwho can do this, ideally in a legal set-
ting." This means outside the state, in
another state with more liberal laws, or
in Puerto Rico or England.
"If the patient can arrange it, I send
them to London," he says. "In the U.S. the
operation depends on the market. The
abortionist will charge all it can bear: In
Puerto Rico, abortion is illegal, but fairly
widely performed. But I'm a bit uneasy
about sending a girl there."

In any case, he recommends that the
woman m o v e out of Michigan for her
abortion. "If she decides that she can't
afford the time or the expense, I point
out to her very strongly that she think
about that some more, and go over her
budget with a very sharp pencil."
"I don't like the alternative, and If they
still feel they can't swing it, they are on
their own."
The doctor, because of his practice of al-
ways sending patients out of the state,
claims to know little about the local crim-
inal abortion scene, professional or un-
But when .the patient is forced to turn
to someone in the area, he takes precau-
tions. "In that case, I suggest a prescrip-
tion for phophylactic anti-biotic, and sug-
gest to them signs of surgical complica-
tions or a botched abortion." He advises
them to contact Women's Hospital imme-
diately if they see any of these signs.
The most common type of abortion, if
the pregnancy is in the early stages, (be-
"I really have the feeling
that w it h the population.
pressure being what it is,
and the speed with which we
are destroying our environ-
ment, no baby ought to be
brought into the world un-'
less he's very badly wanted."
fore the eleventh or twelveth week) is call-
ed dilation and curretage, or, in the lang-
uage of the trade, a "D and C."
This type of abortion is relatively rou-
tine and safe when performed by a pro-
fessional, licensed physician in clean sur-
roundings. It involves dilation of the cer-
vix, a necklike structure providing access
to the fetus in the uterus. A curette, a
sharp scraping tool, is then used to clean
away the tissue.'
The uterus must be completely cleaned
out to prevent infection from beginning in
the remaining dead tissue. Extreme care
must be taken not to puncture the wall of
the uterus, or severely lacerate it, thus
providing a chance for bacteria to enter
the mother's system.
* Properly done, however, the operation is

routine. "If the uterus is pretty well clean-
ed out, the only question is the sterile
technique of the man doing the cleaning."
he says.
The doctor warns against quacks, and
attempts at self-abortion. "If the uterus
rand the bag of fluid surrounding the
fetus) is just instrumented with a sharp
object in the hope of causing expulsion
of the fetus, it can lead to severe prob-
Because of his fear of quacks, this doc-
tor, despite his limited knowledge of the
local abortion scene, keeps an ear open for
word of botched jobs.
"If I'm aware that 'in the past month or
so there have been botched jobs where the
girls have identified the abortionist, I will
warn the patient to stay away from there.
But I have no written list of hacks," he
Despite his belief that life begins at con-
ception, and his respect for the natural
process of procreation, the doctor is in
favor of liberalizing the abortion laws.
"I think most of us here at the hospital
would say that ideally the final responsi-
bility for the decision should rest firmly on
the shoulders of the physician responsible
for that patient's care."
"Cases should meet requirements for very
careful precise documentation and the doc-
tor must very clearly present the basis on
which he made his judgment," he says.
Hie argues for a review board to oversee
this procedure--a procedure which falls
somewhere between complete, unhindered
liberalization of the lawy and limiting abor-
tions only to "health" or incest cases.
"The. doctor's records should be sub-
mitted to the same sort of periodical review
that any other medical practice is subjected
to," he says. He mentions the possibility
of the general public having some role in
this reviewing process, as well as state and
professional panels.
The doctor stresses the importance of
public opinion in determining how abor-
tions are to be carried out, if at all,
"I have the feeling that medicine is right
in questioning the technical competence of
the public to make broad sorts of evalu-
ations in medicine, but I also think that
medicine today is wrong in assuming the
public is incapable of making some pretty
informed judgments about the direction
of medical practice and its affect on a





Trashing is a revolutionary experiment

of damage deposits

DISPUTES OVER the return of damage
deposits - a major bone of conten-
tion between tenants and landlords in
Ann Arbor - may potentially be ended
by a new city ordinance passed on first
reading by city council.
The proposed ordinance, which would
allow the city clerk to hold damage de-
posits in escrow for the duration of a ten-
ant's lease, solve' many of the inequities
in the current system -- where tenants
have to sue to collect withheld deposits.
Under the new ordinance, the clerk, or
any other agency designated by council,
could keep the deposit -- only if the land-
lord and tenant g a v e him permission.
(This is because the city has no authority
to enact such an ordinance; only the state
legislature is empowered to change this
At the end of the lease if the tenant
and landlord are not in agreement over
damages incurred, t h e landlord would
have to prove the damage in small claims
court to receive any payment. This bur-
den presently rests on the tenant.
THE ORDINANCE would thus give the
decision of refunding a damage de-
posit to an impartial third party who, un-
like the tenant or landlord, has no spec-
ial interests concerned.
The landlord could not keep the deposit
at whim because it would be under the
jurisdiction of the clerk. And by placing
A further

the responsibility to prove damages on
the landlord, the likelihood of manage-
ment companies manipulating tenants
and escalating the damages would be de-
Landlords as expected, have already in-
dicated substantial opposition to the
code. They say court costs to recover the
deposit money would be greater than the
deposit itself. But surely landlords are
more able to pay the legal costs than ten-
ants, who have long been faced with this
However, another complaint held by
landlords holds some weight. Since no
provision is included in the ordiance to
inspect the apartmbnts either at the be-
ginning and end of the lease, it is con-
ceivable, they argue, t h a t the proper
amount of damage may not be known.
A tenant could claim one thing, a land-
lord another, and t h e landlord might
never be able to recover the proper
amount of damages. Or a landlord could
claim payment of damages which were
in the apartment before the tenant mov-
ed in under the current proposal, the city
would be unable to judge either s i d e
right or wrong because it did not make
the necessary inspections.
This is a legitimate complaint and the
city should make provision - despite the
cost - to include such inspections in the
jN ANY EVENT, the precise amount of
money to be deducted from a tenant's
damage deposit involves a judgment
which should not be made exclusively by
the landlord.
All too often landlords hold damage de-

To the Editor:
IT SEEMS TO ME that the
judgment of Saturday night's "an-
ti-imperialist" activities in the
editorial by Stuart Gannes and
Martin Hirschman is basically too
negative. -From my own reactions
to being in the march and from
what I have heard from other
people involved, I would guess that
the prevailing motivation was
political voyeurism and frustra-
Frustration with the failure of
the American left to significantly
damage American imperialism is
an understandable feeling; I share
it myself. But this emotion is not
a substitute for a coherent theory
of how revolutionary change can
be brought about, and how im-
perialism can be destroyed, rather
than "trashed." No one has such
an analysis now, certainly not
However, at least SDS has a
willingnness to initiate new tac-
tics. Saturday night, all of Satur-
day night, should be considered an
experiment: an experiment that
failed, and should not be repeated,
but one that SDS had every right
to try. No one has the right to
condemn those actions completely
unles he has some alternative.
WHAT REALLY appalled me
about the editorial was the atti-
tude toward repression. Obviously
Hirschman and Gannes have
learned nothing from the teach-in
on repression. Anyone who has
faved repression knows that you
do not try to deal with it by urging
those in power to adopt the most
fitting or appropriate punishment
for the crime.
Hirschman and Gannes suggest
that "Ideally, this (offical Univer-
sity) response will involve an ap-

propriate balance of concern for
the security of the University and
the rights of the individuals in-
volved. Of necessity, the admin-
istration must be expected to pro-
tect the University by pressing
charges against those involved ..."
This is surely the most innocent
appraisal of the motives of those
who rule the University I have
seen in a long time. Anti-imperial-
ist actions, even those as futile as
Saturday night's assault on North
Hall, are a threat not to the secur-
ity of the University but to the
legitimary of the University's col-
laboration with militarism.
These actions will be ignored
by the University if possible, and
repressed with maximum force if
necessary. In any case, to appeal
for justice tempered with mercy
flies in the face of the facts. The
University is not a neutral party
which can react fairly to the situ-
ation. It is a partisan in a political
conflict, and as such it cannot be
advised or conciliated but only
fought against.
-Marty McLaughlin
Feb. 3
Revolutionary struggles
To the Editor:
WE MUST BEGIN to unite po-
litical thought with concrete po-
litical action. - For too long the
Ann Arbor Community has talked
about ROTC, about Racism, about
imperialism, setting up petitions
and committees that have always
failed. There have b e e n anti-
ROTC campaigns for two years.
People know how ROTC provides
officers to put down the libera-
tion struggles in Vietnam, Laos,
Santo Domingo, and the Black
and Brown colonies.

Saturday night, 3000 people
listened to the Minister of Culture
of the Black Panther Party, Em-
ory Douglas, and others talk about
the reality of this country, about
people's struggles for control over
their lives, about the repression
that they face, and about what we
MUST do to end that repression
and promote the people's libera-
500 people gathered in the Fish-
bowl to take some concrete action.
We marched in the streets to the
County Courthouse, where speak-
ers described the police and court's
role to suppress the Black Berets
(Ann Arbor 6). An NLD' flag was.
raised to show solidarity with the
Vietnamese, and the people cheer-
We then moved on to the ad-
ministration building, where a
speaker talked about the univer-
sity's role in maintaining racism
and imperialism through ROTC,
Corporation investments, War Re-
search, Recruiting, a n d Admis-
.sions practices. (3% of the stu-
dents are non-white; the median
income of all students' parents is

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AT THAT POINT we marched
to North Hall, shouting "Smash
ROTC." 30 to 35 people broke in-
to the building and "trashed" :t,
smashing windows, doors, trophy
cases, and .so on. The rest of the
people stood outside in support. Ib
is this action which seems to have
upset Mr. Gannes and Mr. Hirsch-
They called the destruction of
the windows and trophy c a s e s
"senseless." Senseless? Ma y be.
Maybe it would have been "sensi-
ble" to TOTALLY destroy the
building, to blow it up or burn it
down, as the people of Puerto Ri-
co have done. But to do that more
people must get involved, more
must liberate themselves from
their feelings t h a t property is
something more important than
Vietnamese lives, than black peo-
ple's lives, than GI's.
However it is "senseless" to sug-
gest that 250 people marching to
North Hall, 30 people going inside
and smashing it, is unimportant
or irrelevant. Last y e a r people
would have run at the first sound
of breaking glass. This year 250
people stayed.
People are beginning to under-
stand that it is right and neces-
sary to physically attack racist
imperialism institutions, to burn
draft files, to sabotage weapons
factories, to destroy war research
labs. Would it not have b e e n
right for Germans to destroy their
war machine? Is it not right to

Certainly to instill emotional
fervor in the rhetoric of super-na-
tionalism and racism is barbaric,
but to deny the possibility of peo-
ple linking their gut feelings to
humanistic politics is absurd.
Gannes and Hirschman suggest
that the action alienated the peo-
ple. "At the very least it destroyed
thecredibility of the issue in the
'eyes of the. community-at-large."'
What is the credibility of this is-
sue? Is it creditable to the people
around the world to continue pro-
ducing officers while we h a v e
"rational" discussions? It is clear
that we should transmit to the
community that the people must
smash ROTC, and that cannot be
done without a context of action.
-Rich Feldman,
-Chris Fry, SDS
Feb. 3
Unique politics
To the Editor:
I HAVE ENJOYED your paper
very much since I came to Mich-
igan. it' saddens me to have to
write to say, however, thatvafter
your coverage of the events last
Saturday night the first few doubts
crept into my head. I can't decide
whether you lack integrity, per-
ception, or merely empathy.

campus. It was unique in that it
was not civil disobedience; people
did not want to spend time in Jail.
The politics of the event followed
the YIPPIE maximn. "The first
duty of a revolutionary is to not
get caught."
In a very real sense this was a
guerrilla action rather than a
"college protest march."
all of us took part in the trashing,
some playing one role and some
another. As the glass came crash-
ing down it was clear to everyone
what was happening and (if you
noticed( the outside crowd did not
leave until their brothers had fin-
I do not agree with some
Weathermen that old style civil
disobedience is inappropriate in
all cases. I think it is clear, how-
ever, that continued passive dis-
sent begins to border on patho-
logical masochism after about the
millionth takeover-bust heads-
jail-bail-trial-sentence sequence.
The action Saturday night was
of a different genre. People. got
together, dug some brilliant speak-
ing, talked to each other at work-
shops, and then massed at mid-
night. From there they went on
to inflict physical damage on the
aanamv , ar..n ,nn a nn'na of *tIa


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