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June 03, 1977 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-06-03

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The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Friday, June 3, 1977
News Phone: 764-0552
Aborton: For women only
BY AN OVF tWHELMING majority vote Wednesday, the
Michigan tate House joined eight other states call-
ing for a constitutional convention to ban abortion. The
issue faces the State Senate.
We unequivocally believe no state, no church, no
court can realistically adjudicate this intensely personal
issue. The decision rests between a woman and her con-
Many citizens believe a ban on abortion would curb
sexual activity in and out of wedlock. But such is not
the case.
A ban on abortion could only do two things: force
women to bear unwanted children, or force women into
illegal and unsafe abortions.
The reasons for pregnancy range from indifference
to ignorance, and certainly include the desire for chil-
dren. All reasons are strictly personal, and all options
to deal with pregnancy should remain equally personal.
Because there are no contraceptives which are both
100 per cent safe and 100 per cent effective, the alter-
natives to pregnancy must remain open.
Many women want their children. Many women are
willing to put unwanted children up for adoption. And
many other women do not want to bear children, want-
ed or unwanted.
A person's right to dictate what could and should
not be done with their bodies is inviolable and unlegis-
latable. Pregnancy falls within the range of those rights.
Women's bodies should not be treated as political foot-
balls. Constitutional, legislative or judicial bans on abor-
tion are not acceptable, and should themselves be banned.
Reporters need to have,
the right to remain silent
CONGRESS SHALL make no law abridging freedom of
the press - but nobody said anything about Con-
gress making laws to aid and promote freedom of the
press. There certainly are times when legislation to pro-
tect newsgathering operations is in order.
One such case is that of shield laws.
The Newspaper Guild - a union representing 40,000
reporters - is asking Congress to initiate legislation to
protect reporters' confidences with sources from federal
grand jury inquisition.
In the past six years, over 60 subpoenas have been
served on reporters by grand juries. The inquisitions have
also subpoenaed notes, transripts, documents, films, tapes
and other reportorial materials.
In such cases, the reporter must choose between be-
traying the confidence of sources or apossible jail sen-
tence for contempt of court.
rF THE 60 SUBPOENAS served, 17 resulted in contempt
citations, and five of those cited served jail sentences.
Had the reporters divulged the subpoenaed informa-
tion, they wotld have violated the most important re-
portorial relationship - that between the reporter and
the source. That relationship is as equally privileged as
confidences between doctors and patients, priests and con-
feSsors, lawyers and clients, and should be equally pro-
In the interest of fair, accurate and complete re-
porting, a reporter's access to information must be pro-
tected by the law.
'Prior to 1972, reporters believed protection was in-
herent in the First Amendment. That same year, the
Supreme Court ruled against that supposition to say re-
porters are not immune to grand jury inquisition.
Without that immunity, the reporters' job of gath-
ering and reporting news is clearly in jeopardy. And the
public access to knowledge about controversial organi-

zations could be drastically lessened without reportorial
Such rights, and freedom of the press - often called
a pillar of democracy - deserve Congressional protec-

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All R IZA 1 -

Pat p l tics, fa\\ -n
grass-roots .M vemnts

American citizens are, more than ever be-
fore, going outside traditional party organiza-
tions to forge a new political landscape. As a
resuWA, overall national policies have taken sec-
ond place to immediate issues that directly af-
fect pepple's day-to-day lives.
Underlying the phenomenon is a stubborn re-
belliousness against the prevailing political in-
difference and the unresponsiveness of public of-
ficials. Individuals are learning to bypass the
traditional political avenues and take matters into
their own hands.
Individuals, organized in new constellations,
have come to see themselves as surrogates for
party bosses able to raise the particular issues
of greatest concern to them.
AS CONFIDENCE in parties and politicians
has declined, the importance of citizen action
in politics has steadily increased.
Eight of the larger-citizen action groups now
have a combined membership of 618,000 and an
annual income of $12,084,000.
Some, such as Common Cause and the Sierra
Club, now rival the Republican and Democratic
Parties in annual income and/or dues-paying
They include consumer groups, environmental
groups, groups concerned with various occupation-
al hazards, Nader task forces, groups urging a
particular political reform and special advocacy
groups of all kinds.
organizations that cut across party lines to grap-
ple with concerns mostly avoided by the major
parties because they seem non-political or too
For whatever they have' accomplished politi-
cally, the heightened self-awareness of the mem--
bers has sharpened political perceptions and cre-
ated a new social sensitivity on the part of the
public-at-large. What may be emerging is a new
kind of politics more directly concerned with in-
dividual needs and problems - and the problems
of special groups - than any we have known
in the past.
Many groups have raised issues not normally
regarded as political, but which have definite
political consequences. In New Hampshire and
elsewhere, aroused citizens have staged dramatic
,protests against nuclear power, as other groups
have fought the landing of the Concorde plane
at Kennedy, airport in New York.

These have not been mere protests in the
conventional sense, but massive, well-organized,
determined, disciplined political actions which
have often bewildered the public authorities.
AS ONE MIGHT EXPECT, there have also
been retrograde forms of citizen action, such as
the appearance of Ku Klux Klan units and Nazi-
like groups in northern and western cities.
Sometimes the disdain for traditional politics
have assumed satirical porportions. Last Novem-
ber the Owl Party in Tumwater, Washington,
whose motto is "Out with logic, On with lunacy,"
ran eight candidates for public office. Some had
names such as Boom Boom, Bunco Bob, and Fast
Lucie, who, incidentally, received 40,000 votes
for Secretary of State. One candidate promised
to heal the Continental Divide.
But the loss of confidence in traditional politi-
cal processes implied by such mockery is only
a partial explanation for the emergence of the
citizen rebellion.
Indivaduals have clearly found it more in-
teresting and meaningful to relate to an issue
of immediate concern to them than to carry
out routine clubhouse political chores. They are
also increasingly independent of group discipline
and demanding direct involvement in decision-
making and action.
A WALL STREET JOURNAL writer recently
noted that political organizers can no longer de-
liver votes with the assurance they once did, nor
can labor leaders deliver their rank-and-file.
"The whole country," he wrote, "is atomizing,
each man a little world unto himself and some-
times the only thing that seems to be holding
it together are the national television networks"
- which in itself is not particularly reassur-
Of course, citizen action politics is not new
to America. What is new is the scale and chang-
ing character of the action and the impact it is
having on the political structure.
In today's world of towering organizations,
there is a real need, .as -writer Orville Schell
noted recently, "to start at the bottom: from
sofnre small place where people are still in touch
and cohesive enough to trust each other and act,"
even if only on'a single issue.
But citizen action politics cannot fill the gap
that exists today in national political leadership.
Carey McWilliams, editer of Nation for more
than ay years, writes occasionally for the Pacific
News Service.

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