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January 20, 1989 - Image 4

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OPINION

Page 4

Friday, January 20, 1989

The Michigan Daily

4 b£irbgau flai g
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. IC, No. 79 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.

Right

to

free

Public V,,.
WITH THE MISSOURI court's poten-
tial re-examination of the Roe vs. Wade
decision, some advocates of women's
reproductive rights are quick to defend
the ruling. But the privacy doctrine, the
basis for the Supreme Court's 1973
ruling, is the same rationale used to
deny poor women federally funded
abortions in the Harris vs. McRae
(1980) decision.
"In Roe that right to privacy was
found 'broad enough to encompass a
woman's decision whether or not to
terminate her pregnancy.' In 1977 three
justices observed, 'In the abortion
context, we have held that the right to
privacy shields the woman from undue
state intrusion in and external scrutiny
of her very personal choice."'
(Catherine A. MacKinnon, Feminism
Unmodified Discourses on Life and
Law.)
Abortion must be available to
women on demand, but privatization
does not guarantee this. While privati-
zation is the doctrine which is used to
justify the courts' "non-intervention" in
the decision to abort, it is also used to
r deny public funding for abortions.
The increased public/private split in
women's lives further subordinates
women to men. Women who are un-
able to afford their own abortions must
rely on men - who make on average
35 percent more than women - or else
make demands on the state which, on a
national scale, has denied them.
Privatizing the decision also in-
creases the abuse a women can be sub-
jected to in her choice. She may be
pressured out of making the choice by
people - family, sexual partners,
friends - who control her only access
to terminating her pregnancy.

Private

The "private choice" doctrine also
ignores the amount of force implicit in
heterosexual relations. In many cases
sexual intercourse is not co-equally de-
termined. All forms of rape are barely
acknowledged by society and ineffec-
tual to prosecute in a legal system
which pretends men and women are
equal in their power to consent to
intercourse.
Even in those rape cases which
women do bring to trial, the privacy
doctrine, under the guise of how inti-
mate she was with the man, is used to
obscure the issue of consent. Victim
blaming is easy in a society where all
sexual decisions are private and all
public sexual women are whores or,
through pornography, look like
whores.
Reliance on a purely private deci-
sion as a means toward sexual equality
is contradictory. Unequal economic
and social conditions enforce unequal
sexual access. Women are economi-
cally dependent on men; women are
painted by rape culture and pornogra-
phy as submitting to force and liking it;
women are socialized as subordinates
to men. The right to abortion does not
elevate women's power in sex to equal
that of men.
Abortion is not an issue of birth
control. Women die everyday from
prostitution, pornography, back alley
abortions, and lack of medical care.
These conditions make abortion a
health care issue.
According to Roe v. Wade, privacy
is broad enough to include a woman's
right to terminate pregnancy. But
abortion is a human right, not a private
right. Privacy is male supremacy;
public acknowledgement is common
humanity.

By Libby S. Adler
This weekend human rights activists
across the country will demonstrate in
support of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court
ruling Roe v. Wade that declared abortion
to be legal under the U.S. constitution.
Sixteen years later, I am terrified that this
kind of action needs to be taken. How
much time has really passed? Enough to
have gained any respect for the sovereignty
of a woman over her own body? Enough
to discover the myriad of social ills that
result from poorly or unplanned child-
rearing?
Apparently not, because once again, the
court may find it necessary, in its superior
wisdom and experience with such issues,
to evaluate the legality of abortion. The
court, alas, is composed primarily of men.
This letter cannot change that, but it can
delineate some connections that I hope our
country's decision-makers will someday
see: Abortion, though it constitutes a
highly significant issue in its own right,
is also one of many freedoms whose
absence contributes to the oppression of
women. The Court's reconsideration of
women's right to abortion fosters the so-
cially accepted view that a woman's body
is not her own and may be exploited in a
variety of ways with impunity. In just
how many spheres does another authority
have the right to govern a woman's body?
If he can tell her when she must have a
baby, can he tell her when she must not?
Forced sterilization does occur in our oh-
so-western-and-developed nation.
Simone de Beauvoir, in The Second
Sex, points to the similarities between
prostitution and child-bearing as it now
functions. A prostitute's body is not her
own; in return for the money or
"protection" she receives, she yields con-
trol of her body to an alien authority. In
our social structure, sadly, this is accept-
able. One may argue that prostitution is
illegal and certainly scorned by our sys-
tem, but I ask you then to examine the
subtler prostitution of the women who are
pimped in the typical beer advertisement.

Since the woman in this culture is per-
ceived to serve in her primary capacities
as: 1) satisfier of the male sex drive, and
2) procreator of the species, it is no sur-
prise that rape and prostitution are com-
mon and insufficiently challenged. It is
also no surprise that certain powers-that-be
find it equally acceptable to colonize a
woman's uterus and impose decisions on
her as to when to bear children. In para-
phrasing de Beauvoir, Rosemary Agonito
summarily states "Because she is reduced
to servicing men through her sex
whether for pleasure or procreation -
woman is exploited."
Freeing women from this exploitation
means that all women, regardless of their
financial situation, should have ready ac-

choice
own needs or the needs of their children-
and, of course, we do not have the statis-
tics on the homeless children either. We
do, however, have statistics on welfare,
crime, and unemployment. We have
enough information to know that "cycle of
poverty" is not just a catch phrase. It is
poor women who are denied access to ade-
quate education and health care facilities.
Unless safe abortion is available to all
women of all economic standing, it will
continue to be poor women who are either
forced into the alley or bring to term a
child that they are unprepared to raise.
That child is quite likely to face the same
dilemma only a few years later.
The Supreme Court's 1973 ruling,
declaring the Fourteenth Amendment's

'In just how many spheres does another authority have the
right to govern a woman's body? If he can tell her when she
must have a baby, can he tell her when she must not? '

cess to health care and contraception. It
means that everyone should have a free
education that offers and affirms choices as
to sexual lifestyle. It means that lack of
money, education or emotional support,
should never interfere with a woman's
right to the safe and happy administration
of her own body. It means that the deci-
sion of whether to have an abortion in the
event of an unwanted pregnancy must in-
deed be the woman's. All the moralizing
and religious sentiment, no matter how
passionate or well meaning, cannot im-
pinge on the woman's right to choose.
The dangers of violating this right have
already manifested themselves in the most
blatant ways in the United States. There
are no records from which to quote the
number of women, particularly poor
women, who have suffered or died from
unsanitary "back alley" abortions. Until
the 1990 census is complete, there are no
statistics on the number of homeless
women who are unable to support their

notion'of personal liberty to include a
woman's right to choose abortion, and the
subsequent 1983 ruling that various at-
tempts by states to curb this right were
unconstitutional, are landmark, precedent-
setting court decisions and should be up-
held in the face of Michigan's recently
passed Proposal A and restrictive legisla-
tion emerging from various other states.
The Court's upcoming decision will con-
tribute either to the growing inequity that
we see in our nation or it will remove a
fundamental brick from the base of the
towering wall that prevents so many peo-
ple in this country from pursuing happi-
ness. It will also continue the formulation
of the judicial contribution to American
society's view of women.
I urge you to show your support for the
court's precedent at noon in the Diag on
Friday, at Kennedy Square in Detroit at
1:45 pm on Sunday, and through letters to
the U.S. Supreme Court justices as they
consider the implications of reviewing the
Roe v. Wade decision.

#I

Libby Adler is an LSA senior.

Act

for

free

choice

THE ANN ARBOR Committee to De-
fend Abortion Rights will hold a rally
today at noon on the Diag to commem-
orate the Roe v. Wade decision, which
legalized abortion, and to demand the
rollback of Proposal A, which illegal-
ized medicaid funded abortions.
The group's primary goal is free,
safe abortion on demand, though it
supports other issues of reproductive
freedom including lesbian and gay
male's rights, universal sex education
addressing lesbian and gay male sexu-
ality, and an end to court-enforced
sterilization.
The group also plans to fight Opera-
tion Rescue, the right-wing organiza-
tion which closes down abortion clinics
and harasses women trying to receive
abortions and the doctors who perform
them. Operation Rescue also attacks
many clinics which simply provide ed-
ucation and contraception, mistakenly
believing them to be abortion clinics.
The group will travel to Detroit and the
surrounding area to open the clinics
and escort women and doctors through
the protestors.
No time to celebrate:
Protest in
TODAY'S INAUGURATION of
George Bush culminates a celebration
{ which cost the American people $30
million. Tonight, a million American
people remain homeless.
This example of skewed priorities is
one of many which has inspired an in-
auguration day protest against George
Bush at the Federal Building, today at.
4:30 p.m. An organizing coalition of
13 groups promoting - among other
causes - anti-racism, anti-militarism
and Central American solidarity will
express their concerns about Bush's
past role and likely direction in guiding
s the administration.
The inauguration of our 41st presi-

This combination of education and
direct action is the only way to fully
address the questions of reproductive
freedom. While the actions of Opera-
tion Rescue have received immense
press coverage, the struggles and
problems of the pro-choice movement
are less well known. By demonstrating
the link between the issues of abortion
and other attempts to legislate people's
control over their bodies - forced
sterilization and lesbian and gay male
sexual freedom - the group hopes to
represent a more inclusive idea of the
state of reproductive freedom in this
country.
Direct action is urgently important.
At one clinic in Detroit last year police
first tried to arrest a doctor attempting
to enter the clinic, rather than those at-
tempting to illegally close the clinic.
Since police cannot be depended upon
to protect women, people must take it
into their own hands to insure women
their legal right to abortions. This
weekend, while remembering Roe v.
Wade, join in the struggle to maintain
the abortion rights it guarantees and
extend them to all women.
au uration
tional budget deficit to triple. The in-
creased fiscal support for the military
has come at the expense of important
welfare and social programs. Illegal
military action in Nicaragua and El
Salvador has escalated, deepening po-
litical and economic crises in Central
America.
Students must mobilize to demand a
new national agenda: an end to the
arms race and the U.S. sponsored war
in El Salvador, the abandonment of the
policies which have brought war and
poverty to Nicaragua, and a Middle
Eastern policy which respects human
rights.
Domestic demands must include po-
litir n i h~,.tirnn fin. lhqch i c v

University sponsors overworked, underpaid TAs:
GEO offers

By Don Demetriades
Undergraduates, are you finding your
educational experience slightly less than
you had hoped for? Why do you think that
is? Wait, don't lose hope. The University
can help you out, if it's willing to com-
mit itself to your education.
The University prides itself on the qual-
ity of its undergraduate education and
therefore apportions much of its budget
toward undergraduate instruction. Often
administered by economists and engineers,
who know about efficiency, the University
should seek to maximize the educational
value of these precious dollars devoted.to

complain that they do not receive enough
individual attention from their TA, and
TAs complain that they cannot teach
effectively. Unfortunately, such com-
plaints cannot be assuaged by even the
most excellent TA training program.
The mandate is clear: smaller discussion
sections, of twenty students or less, are
desperately needed. Here is why:
1) More student involvement in
discussion sections: As section size
increases the demand on the student to
come prepared, listen and participate de-
creases. The larger the discussion section,
the easier it is for students to "hide" be-
hind their peers. Large discussion sections,

'The TA-taught discussion section will never operate to its full
potential until the University prohibits departments from al-
lowing-or, in some cases, forcing- their TAs to teach un-
manageably large classes.'

clution,
ways, the answer is: money. A Univer-
sity-wide class size limit would force de-
partments to create more discussion sec-
tions and thus hire more TAs. Typically
departments do not have the money to
open new discussion sections, because the
administration is unwilling to increase the
TA budget to that extent.
Unlike most expenditures on
"education," the extra funds needed for
smaller classes would have a direct and
powerful impact on undergraduate educa-
tion. The goal of an educational institu-
tion, whose finances are tight, should be
to maximize the educational value of an
instructor's hour at minimum cost. Salary
and hourly pay increases, for faculty and
staff, entail more money for the instructor
per hour, not more educational value per
dollar. On the other hand, the money
needed for smaller discussion sections,
rather than increasing an individual TA's
hourly pay, would generate more TA time
per student at the same hourly wage, thus
maximizing the educational value of the
dollars spent on TAs.
A class size limit could be established if
the University agrees to it in its upcom-
ing contract negotiation with the Graduate
Employees Organization (GEO). The GEO
hopes that its proposed limit of 20 stu-
dents per discussion section does not fall
on deaf ears, as it has repeatedly in the
past. Since 1975, through six bargaining
sessions, the University has denied the
GEO's proposals regarding class size.
Instead, in the name of "education," the
University budgets huge sums of money
for advanced and accessible computer sys-
tems, new buildings, and other allegedly
essential items. Computer technology is
needed and we all benefit as a consequence.
Mechanisms like advanced computer sys-
tems and new buildings, however, facili-
tate rather than constitute undergraduate

your instruction. But how? More and bet-
ter computers? More books in the library?
Higher faculty salaries? Perhaps all of
these make some difference to your educa-
tion.
But think for a moment about the in-
structors with whom you interact most-
your Teaching Assistants (TAs). To what
extent does your education depend on
them? And is the University using its
dollars efficiently to maximize the educa-
tional potential of your experience with
TAs? The current TA system is not per-
fect, but its potential is virtually unlim-
ited. The question is how to realize this
potential. LS&A's new centralized TA
training program is a step in this direc-
tion, but it's not sufficient.

which make it possible for students to
slide through their undergraduate careers
without ever being forced to acquire the
skills of listening to their peers and ver-
bally articulating their ideas. Smaller
classes, of twenty students or less, would
help eliminate excuses and facilitate these
skills.
2) More TA time per student in
office hours: TAs with many students
banging on their doors during office hours
must rush through each appointment in
order to see every student. TAs are so har-
ried that they find it difficult to devote
quality office time to any one student.
Fewer students per TA would help allevi-
ate this problem.
3) More and better comments on

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