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October 10, 1971 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-10-10

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jffe 410rian Bally
Eighty-one years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Whueler; bort on

l caw vIctim

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

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

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1971

NIGHT EDITOR: GERI SPRUNG

Landlords violate freeze

QLN AUGUST 15 President Nixon an-
nounced to the nation that he was
freezing wages, prices, and rents. Ap-
parently the majority of landlords in
the Ann Arbor community decided t h a t
the national policy didn't apply to them.
Most landlords in this area are charg-
ing and collecting higher rents than they
were charging last year for the same
housing in direct violation of the freeze.
While the guidelines laid out by the
President's Cost of Living Council (CLC)
are very specific, some landlords are ig-
noring them completely and are trying
to find loopholes to exempt themselves
from the freeze.
The greatest help the landlords are re-
ceiving comes from the tenants them-
selves. The majority of tenants are not
aware of the guidelines nor of their rights
under them. Because of this it is easy
for the landlords to convince their ten-
ants that they really have no complaint.
The landlords have their lawyers work-
ing hard at trying to find loopholes in
the guidelines and the most effective way
to combat this is for the tenants to fa-
miliarize themselves with the guidelines
and their rights under them.
'Tenants may also be fearful of eviction
if they refuse to pay the increases. Under
the freeze guidelines, however, any at-
tempt at eviction because of non-pay-
ment of illegal rent increases is outlaw-
red.
THE GUIDELINES clearly state that it
makes no difference when a contract
was signed, yet landlords are telling their
tenants that since the contracts w e r e
signed before the freeze the increases
have to be paid. This is not true.
The guidelines also say that landlords
must keep records of what they charged
last year and make these records avail-
able to their tenants, yet some landlords
are claiming that they don't have any re-
cords. This is illegal.
The main tactic the landlords seem to
be using is to tell their tenants that they
are waiting for further rulings. They
,also claim that they will give rebates at
the end of the year if there is a ruling
unfavorable to them.
Yet the Cost of Living Council h a s
"the latest and mosh current guidelines
available", says Mrs. Donna McCauley of
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS),
which is functioning as the CLC in Ann
Arbor.
Another tactic used by the landlord is
delaying any action on their part towards
compliance with the freeze guidelines un-
The city inc

til the whole issue is forgotten. In the
meantime they are continuing to collect
rent increases that they are not entitled
to.
TENANTS, UNDER the guidelines, have
several ways to counteract any illegal
increases by their landlords.
They can and should demand to see
the tax records on their housing to find
out what the rent was last year. Land-
lords are required under the guidelines
to make these records available.
If their rent has been increased they
should refuse to pay the increases. They
should also deduct any increases they
have already paid, from their next rent
payment. Tenants should deduct any in-
crease they have paid on their damage
deposit. Deposits are also frozen under
Nixon's guidelines.
Next they should also file complaints
with the IRS here in Ann Arbor. These
complaints wil be investigated by the
IRS. If the landlord is found guilty of
"willfully and maliciously" violating the
freeze guidelines he can be fined $5,000
and face other court action.
OTHER FREEZE guidelines are:
-rent for new units can be no higher
than rents on comparable units in the
area.
-landlords who have lowered their
rent during the summer are allowed to
raise their rents if they have tax records
to prove they have done this for at least
three years.
-landlords are allowed to raise their
rates if they have spent at least three
months rent or a minimum of $250 in
capitol improvements. The monthly rent
increase can then be no higher than 1.5
per cent of the amount spent on improve-
ments.
-tenants of co-ops and condominiums
are treated as homeowners and the
monthly service charge may be raised
if services are increased.
Even though the guidelines are v e r y
specific and restrict the circumstances
under which the landlords may raise
their rents, the landlords continue to try
to delay any reimbursement until all is
forgotten.
TENANTS IN Ann Arbor should not ex-
pect any quick move by the landlords
to comply with the national policy. Ten-
ants will have to take matters into their
own hands and withhold payment of any
more rent increases.
-PAUL TRAVIS
)me tax fight
based on the assumption that inflation
and the city's population will continue to
climb as they have in recent years. It
seems highly unrealistic, however, to
make those assumptions.
T HE REPORT PREDICTS that the city's
population will increase by about one-
fourth over the next five years - des-
pite the fact that the growth rate of the
Univeristy - the city's largest employ-
er - is leveling off and the city is rap-
idly running out of room for expansion.
Inflation rates also, would seem to be
dropping, as the war is nearing an end
and President Nixon's 'wage-price re-
straints - though hardly an economic
panacea - should slow inflation.
Taken as a whole, Larcom's report
merely adds fuel to the fire of the Re-
publican charges of mismanagement of
money in City Hall - instead of build-
ing popular support for a much-needed

city income tax.
The result has been that Mayor Harris
was prompted to appoint a citizen's tax
commission comprised mostly of Repub-
licans in the hope that they would re-
commend the city income tax and the
Republican councilmen would be encour-
aged to change their minds.
It appears more likely, however, that
the commission, due to issue its report
in early November, will suggest only the
passage of a lesser "stop-gap" tax. This
will force the mayor to ask for another
tax sometime in the next year -- all to
the joy of the politically-minded Coun-

By PAt BAUER
SHIRLEY WHEELER IS a delicate, soft-
spoken Florida housewife who is cur-
rently awaiting a prison sentence of up to
20 years.
She was convicted of a crime committed
by thousands of American women every
year-having an illegal abortion.
In recent years, there have been few
similar cases due largely to liberalized
abortion laws in some states and official
efforts to arrest and prosecute abortionists
rather than their clients.
But the Wheeler case, a giant step back-
ward on the road to abortion reform,
represents everything which members of
the nation's women's movement are try-
ing to eliminate.
In July, she was tried under an anti-
quated 1868 anti-abortion statute which
had never before been used and which
has been declared vague by the State
Supreme Court.
She suffered an invasion of privacy,
and was denied her legal rights as a citi-
zen. And she is awaiting a sentence far
disproportionate to any crime she might
have committed.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, though Wheel-
er was denied what women around the
country have called their "most basic
right" - the right to choose, to make
decisions which govern their own bodies.
As an example of government control
over women's lives which exists in most
states, Shirley Wheeler's case has become
a rallying cry for women around the coun-.
try.
According to Sherry Smith, a spokes-
woman for the National Women's Abortion
Action Coalition (WONAAC), "Shirley's
case is uniting women across the country,
women who used to be too- afraid to do
anything about the laws that are op-
pressing all of them.
"I think that this case will help build
the women's movement and make it much
more powerful."

allowed to make your decisions for you.
It's really none of their business. A wo-
man has a real right to decide. She should
know best when she wants a child, and if
she can support it."
SO WHEELER was brought to court
and charged with a felony under Florida
law. The 1868 statute states that any
person convicted of having or perform-
ing an abortion, unless it is "necessary to
protect the life of the mother," and can
be punished by" up to 20 years in prison--
a sentence designed to be the same as
that for manslaughter.
Wheeler's attorney, James Rogers, says
the 20-year maximum sentence applies to
her case because she was convicted of
aborting a "quick child," a fetus in the
latter stages of development.
"We're not really sure, what the term
means," he says. "It's one of those words
that the legal profession borrowed from
the Bible and then turned over to the
medical profession to define because we
couldn't do it."
"Basically, it refers to a fetus in the
mid-term of pregnancy, after the first
dependent movement has been felt by the
mother."
Cases of abortion which occurs earlier
in pregnancy would receive a maximum
sentence of seven years, he says.
This very ambiguity in the law has been
a controversy in recent times, and even
the Florida Supreme Court has expressed
concern over the law's lack of clarity.
I Shortly before the end of Wheeler's trial
in July, the court criticized the state leg-
islature, which tabled a liberalized abor-
tion bill last session, and urged it to re-
examine the 1868 statute.
Despite the doubt thrown upon the law,
however. Wheeler was tried and con-
victed. Rogers argued against the law in
court on the grounds that it was too
vague. "But the jury didn't buy it after
Shirley testified she had had the abor-
tion," he says.

real right to

de-

cide. She should
know best when
she wants a child

"A a oiiart haIs a

I

and if she

can

support it.
-Shirley Wheeler

-Associated Press

him. I wouldn't have told them even if
I could."
The state prosecutors might have been
disinterested, Rogers suggested, because
the abortionist was practicing outside
their jurisdiction.
Although many women around the
country have been complaining about
Florida's unfair treatment of Wheeler,
some observers were not even surprised
at the outcome of the whole affair. Many
have said that her conviction merely re-
flects the political leanings of much of
the state.

Women march in Lansing for abortion repeal.. .

WHILE IT IS becoming increasingly ap-
parent that the city of Ann Arbor
must institute an income tax in order
to meet the budgetary demands of the
coming years, the actions of both City
Council and City Administrator Guy
9 Larcom surrounding this issue have cor-
respondingly grown more and more dis-
~tasteful.
Council members -- and most predict-
ably the six Republican councilmen -
have given every indication that they
intend to place the "blame" for any
new taxes squarely on the shoulders
of Mayor Robert Harris. There is little
doubt that these council members are
fully aware of the need for new taxes, but
they are hesitant to support any ordi-
nance that may alienate voters.
Their actions might have been under-
standable had they offered viable alter-
natives to the mayor's suggested one per
cent personal income tax, but thus far,
none have emerged.
Larcom, meanwhile, has issued a "Five-
Year Fiscal Projection" that can only be
described as "alarmist." The report con-
tends that the cost of maintaining the
present level of city services will almost
double by fiscal 1976-'77 and estimates
that revenues will lag behind by $7.5 mil-
lion.
Larcom's conclusions are, in part,
-'M-

Wheeler's problems all began when she
and her husband Robert decided they
could not afford to have another child.
"We already have one son," says Wheeler,
"and we don't really have enough money
to bring another one up right.
"I care a lot about children, but I think
it's cruel to bring a child into the world
if you can't take care of it."
IN ADDITION, Wheeler was concerned
about the health problems another preg-
nancy would cause. She completed her
first pregnancy four years ago, despite
a doctor's warning that she should not
have children because she had had rheu-
matic fever. Complications caused by the
pregnancy led to toxemia which "nearly
killed" her, she says.
The decision against having another
child led Wheeler to search for an abor-
tionist in the middle of her third month
of pregnancy. But six weeks and two un-
successful abortions later, Wheeler began
to suffer severe hemorrhaging and was
admitted to a hospital.
The abortion method used was a rela-
tively simple one, which usually works
within a matter of days. A small tube
called a catheter was used to pierce
the amniotic membrane. It 'was left in
place to drain some of the amniotic fluid
away, thus introducing bacteria to the
uterus which causes infection and the
eventual expulsion of the fetus.
BUT FOR SOME reason, the method
was not immediately effective. It was
not until hemorrhages forced Wheeler to
the hospital a month and a half later
that the fetus was finally expelled. And
it was at this time all of her claims
to privacy ended.
Although medical personnel are barred
by professional ethics from discussing
their patients this did not stop two hos-
pital employes from talking about the
events of the day at a bar after work.
A police detective overheard their con-
versation. He followed un the lead found

So the trial was apparently carried out
on an emotional basis, rather than a legal
one. Although the law itself is extreme-
ly questionable, the jury saw fit to con-
vict the defendant of an indefinable crime
using an antiquated statute.
Advocates of abortion reform around the
country became even more convinced of
the law's obsolescence when they learned
that Wheeler's case was the first to be
tried under it.
While the law has been on the books
for 103 years, a spokesman for the Flori-
da attorney general's office said he had
no knowledge of anyone ever being pro-
secuted or convicted of having an abor-
tion. The procedure usually taken in Flor-
ida, as in many states, is to search for
abortionists in an effort to break up
abortion rings.
ROGERS APPROACHED the state
prosecutors about dismissing charges
against Wheeler in exchange for informa-
tion about the abortionist, but, he says,
"Shirley was not specific enough about
where to find them for the state to pro-
secute --- or even make an arrest."
"I could have help them find him ,"
she says. "But I understand that he's a
doctor. I believe in what he's doing, and
I don't want to make things difficult for

FLORIDA HAS BEEN conservative in
its view of abortion reform in recent years,
with the state legislature defating liber-
alized abortion bills regularly for the past
five years. And, although another at-
tempt to change the law is currently in
the works, few expect a liberalized law
to pass.
According to Sen. Harold Wilson (R-
Pinellas County), a member of the com-
mittee currently drawing up a new bill,
there seems to be no real change of at-
titude among the legislators. They are
going through the routine of drafting
an abortion bill only because of the ac-
tion taken by the state Supreme Court.
"I'll predict that the bill will be passed
this year," he says, "but only because
I've been predicting the same thing for
five years now and it hasn't happened
yet."
Meanwhile, Wheeler's conviction under
the 1868 statute has opened a Pandora's
box of other problems. Because people are
now being convicted and punished for
having abortions, as well as performing
them, officials now have to worry about
cases of "aiding and abetting" abortion.
Now people who loan women money for
abortions and even abortion counselors
could receive the same sentence under the

1868 law as- a person committing a felony.
UNDER FLORIDA LAW, according to
the State Attorney's office of Dade Coun-
ty, Fla., a person who contributes money
to another to have an abortion in a state
where it is prohibited is guilty of the
felony. Both the donor and receiver of
the money would be guilty of conspiracy
to commit the crime as well.
If the money were donated for an
abortion which would take place in a state
where it is legal, however, neither person
would be guilty of a crime.
The question of the legality of abortion
counseling has been tested recently in a
Florida court, when a grand jury in Talla-
hassee heard a case of clergymen coun-
seling women to get legal New York abor-
tions.
In an opinion written by Circuit Court
Judge Ben Willis, the clergymen were
said to be not guilty of breaking the law.
Written information supposedly issued; by
the clergymen telling women how to
manage trips to New York was "not spe,
cific enough."
"To break the law, written abortion in-
formation must itself at least service to
guide a person reading it to either a per-
son who is available for performing the
disapproved activity or to a place where
such activity or information is available,"
Willis wrote.
In' other words, a person cannot be
convicted under Florida law for giving
spoken advice to a woman seeking abor-
tion. But if specific written material is
provided, the person offering advice is
guilty of the same felony as the woman
getting the abortion.
In response to Wheeler's conviction and
to the general rigidity of abortion laws, in
Florida and across the country, women are
beginning to make themselves heard.
MEMBERS OF WONAAC expect Wheel-
er's name to become the rallying cry of
their Nov. 20 march in Washington and
San Francisco. The marches are intended
by WONAAC leaders to press for the re-
peal of all abortion laws, and end to forced
sterilization and the repeal of all restric-
tvie contraception laws. Wheeler has said
that she plans to attend the Washington
march.
Joyce Broughton, a member of WON-
AAC's Ann Arbor chapter, says "I expect
everyone to march around saying 'Free
Shirley Wheeler.' She's just another ex-
ample of traditional society's refusal to let
women make their own decisions, and
that's exactly what we're trying to fight.
WONAAC, a national organization with
chapters in 29 states, is also circulating
petitions demanding Florida's governor,
Reubin Askew, to pardon Wheeler.
"Of course, I doubt that he'll do any-
thing," commented one member. "He's the
one who vetoed Florida's last liberal abor-
tion bill."
And, in addition to offering Wheeler fin-
ancial aid, WONAAC is currently in pro-
cess of assembling a class action suit in
Florida which is intended to prove state
abortion laws unconstitutional. They hope
to achieve this on the grounds that such
and that it is unconstitutional to have
laws invade a' woman's right to privacy,
state control over a woman's body. Simi-
lar class action suits are currently under-
way in a number of states, including Mi-
chigan.
The Florida chapter of the National Or-
ganization of Women (NOW) and the Na-
tional Women's Political Caucus have of-
fered assistance to Wheeler in the form of
financial support and aid.
In addition, the American Civil Liber-
ties Union has offered legal assistance, and
the Playboy Foundation has stated that
it will do "everything in its power," to help

.4

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