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January 16, 1971 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-01-16

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X S firMrn I aily
Eighty years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552 I

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



Abortion law reform:
Time tomake another try

AS THE NEW SESSION of the State Leg-
islature opened Wednesday, Ann Ar-
bor's Sen. Gilbert Bursley renewed his
admirable struggle for reform of state
abortion laws by introducing a bill which
would allow abortions to be performed
whenever a woman requested the opera-
The abortion issue is an emotion-laden
one, and there is a great tendency f o r
proponents of one philosophy or another
to generate a great deal of heat trying to
convince others of one correct moral per-
spective on the issue.
The central point of the movement for
abortion reform should be this: Each wo-
man must decide the moral, religious and
personal questions involved in abortion,
and society must respect her decision. A
woman must have ultimate control over
the functions of her body.
Bursley's bill is not perfect. It requires
90 days residence in the state to qualify
for abortion-on-demand. It also requires
single women under 18 to obtain consent
for the operation from a parent or legal
The residency requirement was ob-
viously included by Bursley with good in-
tentions - to prevent overcrowding of
state medical facilities with women from
other states seeking legal abortions. Yet
for one dedicated to reforming the law in
order to make abortion available to as
many women as possible, Bursley's action
is inconsistent. Hopefully, the provision
can be removed and efforts turned to a
positive movement for abortion law re-
form in other states.

The provision requiring parental con-
sent for young women is naively optimis-
tic. Single young women under 18 often
need abortions for the very reason that
they are unable to face their families
with news of their pregnancy. J u s t as
treatment of venereal disease and distri-
bution of contraceptives are done on a
private basis with young persons, so
should abortion and abortion counseling.
LAST YEAR, abortion law reform was
defeated by one vote when a group of
Catholics from suburban Detroit cornered
their state senator and pressured him to
change his vote at the last minute. This
year, that political pressuring must be
matched by those concerned with realis-
tic r e f o r m. Gov. Milliken has backed
abortion reform, and concerned citizens
must remind him that he is morally com-
mitted to using all of his influence to ac-
complish that objective.
The vote will again be close. The lead-
ing advocate of abortion reform - and
the only female state senator - Lorraine
Beebe (R-Dearborn) ,was defeated last
November in a bid for re-election.
For this reason, support for abortion
reform must be made known now, at the
grass roots level. Only a strong outpour-
ing of public opinion can counteract the
established .and powerful anti-abortion
lobbies already operating in Lansing.
Editorial Page Editor

The Dinosaurs and
VEVEN SOCIETIES that worship their ancestors don't make them
chairmen of congressional committees," quiped former Congress-
man Allard Lowenstein last year as he was arguing for reform in the
seniority system.
If Lowenstein was being flippant., his mood was appropriate for
the tragicomedy of the last session of Congress. At one point, no less
than six filibusters were going on at once in the Senate. Committees in
both houses kept important legislation from reaching the floor. These
types of blunders demonstrate that reform of the seniority system and
rules of procedure are necessary if Congress is to retain any public
confidence at all.
Under the seniority system, rigidly in effect since 1911, representa-
tives or senators with the most years of service are automatically nam-
ed chairmen of committees-
where most of the work of Con-
gress actually takes place.
The result is that, at an age
when most people a r e retiring.
tired old men take charge of com-
mittees and continue through se-
nility and illness until they die.
The average age of House chair-
men is 69-years old and the aver-
age age in the Senate is 67. Some
of the most powerful chairmen -
veterans such as William Colmer
of the House Rules Committee and
Emanuel Celler of the House Ju-
diciary Committee - are over 80.
Although a few of the old men
who run Congress are alert and
healthy, the infirmities of old age
generally produce a hardening of
ideas as well as of arteries. McCormack
Younger members, w h o enter Jh eom c
Congress full of energy and ideas, must wait as long as 30 years for a
chairmanship as they stand in line hoping to outlive their colleagues.
ANOTHER RESULT of the seniority system is that one-party
states and House districts, usually Southern and conservative, which
re-elect the same person decade after decade have an inordinate amount
of congressional influence.
In the Senate for example, 55 per cent of the committee chairmen
are from the South compared with 37 per cent of the total membership.
This conservative tinge often prevents Congress from facing up to the
nation's needs until a crisis situation intervenes.
Since committees must generally approve legislation before it can
be brought to the floor, all-powerful chairmen can personally block
committee consideration of bills or use their influence to kill them.
For example, former Rep. Howard Smith of Virginia, chairman of
the House Rules Committee from 1955 to 1967, postponed or killed
numerous civil rights, housing, education, health and welfare bills for
years during his tenure.



From Here to Eternity

Letters to The Daily


Free abortion counseling
available in Ann, Arbor

HILE DEBATE over reform of the
state's antiquated abortion 1 a w s
drags on in the Legislature, women in
Michigan will find themselves in need of
abortion counseling, and perhaps abor-
Currently, the most obvious method of
obtaining a legal abortion is in New York
State. The legalization of abortion in that
state has prompted the birth and growth
of a maze of abortion counseling and "re-
ferral" services, all operating with pri-
marily commercial interests at heart.
Some of these "service agencies" adver-
tise from time to time in The Daily.
It- should be pointed out that there are
a number of places r i g h t on campus
where women can obtain free, profession-
al, and sincere counseling concerning
problem pregnancies:
--Clergy consultation service of the Of-
fice of Religious Affairs, 764-7442;

-Women's Abortion Counseling Ser-
vice, 663-2363.
WOMEN WHO ASK to speak with a
counselor at each of these numbers will
receive knowledgeable information from
professionals and persons who know what
they are doing. There is no charge for the
counseling. Care is taken in counseling to
consider all the alternatives for action,
and to help the woman respond to the
pressures she is feeling and to help her
make her own decision. In the event that
a woman decides to h a v e an abortion,
care is taken to prepare her for that ex-
perience and directly aid her in locating
a legal, medically safe facility which will
treat her. The University Health Service
assists with medical service and advice.

To the Daily:
partment of the Interior that an
oil pipeline across Alaska is es-
sential to the "growth and se-
curity" of the nation, even at the
cost of almost certain environ-
mental damage, is hardly surpris-
ing or inconsistent. With few ex-
ceptions it has been traditional al-
ways to place obvious economic
benefits above the less tanglible
qualities of an unspoiled natural
environment. The Alaska pipeline
decision grows logically out of such
a tradition.
Yet in a sense, the Alaska case
embodies the whole philosophy of
man in relation to the environ-
ment. The issue arises at a time
when some recognition is being
given to the value of natural en-
vironment per se. More import-
antly, Alaska contains the 1 a s t
large natural environment in the
United States and one of the few
remaining in the world. The con-
clusion that disruption of the last
natural area is necessary is tanta-
mount torthe conclusion that man
and nature cannot coexist and
that man must inevitably con-
quer nature.
IT IS TO BE hoped that as
wilderness dwindles, its value -
as a spiritual and recereational re-
source for man and as an essen-
tial part of the biophysical sys-
tem of a healthy Earth - should
increase, to the point where man
opts in favor of what little wilder-
ness remains even though he takes
an immediate economic loss. Yet
if the Alaskahdecision is sustained,
even that hope must be dashed.
For if the last great wilderness is
sacrificed to continuing economic
growth, there can be little doubt
that this philosophy of growth will
dominate human activity even to
the point where all the earth is
exploited for man's material gain.
WILDERNESS and nature have
been deeply intertwined with the
spiritual and historical develop-
ment of man. For many, the exist-
ence of wilderness gives meaning
and refreshment to an otherwise
mechanized life.
The Alaska pipeline decision is
symbolic of man's negating all
ties with nature. In so doing he
denies his own past and v e r y
likely his future as well.
-Richard L. T. Wolfson
School of Natural Resources



SENIORITY SYSTEM is not all bad - it provides stability,
and prevents deals in selection - but the country seriously
needs the benefit of young ideas
and vigorous leadership.

A number of proposals h a v e
been offered to make committee
chairmen accountable f o r their
actions and to limit their tenure
and each of them has merit.
Perhaps the best is being pro-
moted by a group of Democrats
and Republicans in the House,
which has the best possibility for
reform since t h e retirement of
Speaker John McCormack, 79,
last month.
The plan pushed by the Demo-
crats would retire all chairmen at
age 70 and limit committee chair-
manship to eight years. The Re-
publican version would have GOP
members confirm top Republican*
If the country is to be rescued
as well as the House, should give top

Wright Patman
from senile dinosaurs, the Senate,
priority to these reform proposals.

To the Daily:

My Lai massacre trials:
And the farce continues

-J. N.

dents of Engineering Council, wish
to express our concern for t h e
conditions under which employes
of the University are forced to
work. The pay scale of the Uni-
versity workers it far below any
reasonable standard for subsist-
ence. The discriminatory prac-
tices against blacks, women, a n d
union workers are intolerable.
WE THEREFORE support the
demands of AFSCME Local 1583
for wage increases and an end to
discrimination. Since our dollars
help to maintain the University,
we have a right to the necessary

services for the operation of t h e
University. Until the union de-
mands are met, we will be depriv-
ed of that right.
-Jay M. Babich
and 14 others
Jan. 14
Letters to The Daily should
be mailed to the Editorial Di-
rector or delivered to M a r y
Rafferty in the Student Pub-
lications business office in the
Michigan Daily building. Let-
ters should be typed, double-
spaced and normally should
not exceed 250 words. The
Editorial Directors reserve the
right to edit all letters sub-

THE SECOND area where there is tremendous room for reform is
the rules of the House and especially the Senate. The unlimited debate
allowed by the Senate might have been a good idea in a less complex
age, but Congress has too much work now for such a luxury.
Under present Senate rules debate can be cut off only if two-thirds
of the Senate approves. The result has been a series of filibusters on
civil rights, reform of the electoral college, President Nixon's family
assistance plan, the Cooper-Church amendment, the supersonic trans-
port and numerous other bills.
A number of Senators are proposing to reduce the cloture require-
ment from two-thirds to three-fifths of the Senators present. If the
upper chamber wants to fulfill its responsibilities to the people by
voting up or down proposed legislation rather than talking bills to
death, it will hopefully approve the change.
BESIDES FILIBUSTERS, the Senate also wastes its time in hours*
of windy speeches which have nothing to do with legislation. These tri-
butes to deceased constituents and avowals of concern about unim-
portant matters, known as "morning business" or more accurately as
the "alibi hour," are generally delivered to an empty chamber. The Sen-
ate must wait until this period is finished before it can get to work.
A group of Senators has proposed switching the "alibi hour" to late
afternoon. That way, if Senators wish to orate, they can do so in the #
twilight hours after their colleagues have gone home.

THE FARCE CALLED the My Lai massa-
cre trials took another lurch in its
course Thursday when a six-officer court
martial in Ft. McPherson, Ga. acquitted
Army Sgt. Charles E. Hutto of assault and
intent to commit murder.
It really seems that the only difference
the verdict makes is in Hutto's personal
freedom. He is now going to be able to
leave the Army within a week, and rejoin
society as a free man.
Hutto admitted opening fire on unarm-
ed civilians in My Lai, but claimed he was
"following orders." His attorney argued
that his conviction would open the way
for "every GI" to question orders.
And thus, on that logic, Hutto was ac-
The entire point of the lesson which
diorial Slafg

should be drawn from the My Lai massa-
cre has apparently been lost: One cannot
expect that young recruits, dropped into
a "free fire zone" with orders to destroy
everything in the village will do long and
serious thinking about their personal re-
sponsibilities and obligations. It is far too
late, at that point, to expect anything
other than a massacre. When every ac-
tion, every premise of the U.S. presence
in Indochina had pointed toward a My
Lai for 10 years, there was hardly any-
thing else to expect.
Sgt. Hutto was not the one who should
have been on trial for what happened at
My Lai. Perhaps there is a strange sort of
justice in his acquittal after all.
-J. N.
Chaney, Steve Koppman, Pat Mahoney, Rick
COPY EDITORS: Tammy Jacobs, Hester Pulling, Carla
Anita Crone, Linda Dreeben. Alan Lenhoff, Mike
McCarthy, Zack Schiller, John Shamraj. Geri Sprung,
Kristin Ringstrom, Gene Robinson, Chuck Wilbur.
Edw\ard Zimmerman.'
(h IC, ..C i'l i


1 /4



z T r d1:LOA F1r

L)MTh.. $6E ELh6K)TARY


Editorial Director

Managing Editor



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