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October 06, 1989 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-06
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Southfield, Michigan last
Saturday, a group of
protesters tried to prevent
the clinic from performing scheduled
operations by sitting down in front
of the doors, praying and singing
During the scuffle which ensued
between. those blocking the clinic -
part of a group known as Operation
Rescue - and members of the
Committee to Defend Abortion
Rights which tried to keep it open,
48 anti-abortion protesters were ar-
rested for trespassing. They claimed
to be using civil disobedience to
save babies from being murdered.
Two weeks ago, nearly 5,000
pro-choice activists attended a rally
for abortion rights on the grounds of
the State Capitol in Lansing, shout-
ing slogans such as "Keep your laws
off my body," and "We will never go
back." Governor James Blanchard
encouraged the gathered crowd that
they were just a small fraction of the
nearly 80 percent of Americans who
support the pro-choice position.
These two protests reflect the bat-
tle that is raging across the nation
this fall, most recently inflamed by
the Supreme Court decision last July
dealing with a Missouri abortion
clinic. It is a battle in which both
sides are convinced they are right and
defend their opinions more often
with heated exchanges and protests
than with reasoned argument.
And both sides are unwilling to
compromise. To those who believe
that abortion is murder, there is no
alternative but to outlaw it com-
pletely; to those who would rather
the pregnant woman decide for her-
self, the government should lift all
restrictions and stay out of the mat-
As far apart philosophically as
the two sides are, they are both fo-
cusing intently on the Supreme
Court this fall. The court's decision
in Webster v. Reproductive Health
Services, handed down July 3 after a
month of anticipation, did anything
but settle the issue. Both sides
emerged from Webster even more
committed to their positions and de-
termined to fight.
The Webster decision provided a
number of options for states seeking
to impose restrictions on abortions.
It allowed states to bar public em-
ployees from performing or assisting
in abortions not necessary to save a
pregnant woman's life; to prohibit
the use of public buildings for per-
forming abortions even if no public
funds were involved; and to require
doctors to perform tests to determine
whether the fetus could survive out-
side the womb up to the 20th week
of pregnancy.
And as the Supreme Court recon-
vened this past Monday, three new
abortion cases were prominent on its
docket. The nation will be watching
to see if the court will continue in
the direction already begun in the
Webster case, further weakening the
base of Roe v. Wade, or if it will
reaffirm Roe , the 1973 landmark de-
cision which legalized abortion.

According to University law pro-
fessor Alexander Aleinikoff, while
Roe v. Wade is "unlikely to be
completely wiped off the books," the
Supreme Court has shown it is will-
ing to uphold stringent restrictions
on abortions.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is
likely to provide the pivotal vote in
the new cases, said Aleinikoff. In
Webster, O' Connor voted with the
majority, but her separate opinion
left questions of whether or not she
would completely overturn Roe v.
Wade. In fact, Justice Antonin Scalia
took O'Connor and others to task in
his opinion in the Webster case for
remaining on the fence and not com-
ing down strongly either for uphold-
ing or affirming Roe.
Two of the new abortion cases
appearing before the court involve
Ohio and Minnesota laws upon
which a Michigan parental consent
bill is modeled. The 1985 Ohio law
contested in Ohio v. Akron Center
for Reproductive Rights requires
teenage girls to obtain the permis-
sion of at least one parent before an
abortion. A Minnesota law requires
consent of both parents, even in
cases of divorce or parental desertion.
The third case, Turnock v.
Ragsdale, involves an Illinois law
requiring clinics and doctors' offices
used for performing abortions to
The nation will be watch-
ing to see if the court will
continue in the direction
already begun in the
Webster case or if it will
reaffirm Roe v. Wade.'

However, the legislature will be
spending time on the abortion issue
thanks to bills introduced by
Senators Jack Welborn (R-
Kalamazoo) and Fred Dillingham (R-
Fowlerville). The bills are similar to
the Missouri law upheld in Webster,
and the parental consent case pending
in the Supreme Court.
The most controversial of the
bills, and the one many say is most
likely to pass, would require
teenagers to obtain parental permis-
sion before they can have an abor-
tion. If the minor is unable to re-

quire fetus viability testing after 20
weeks of pregnancy and prohibit the
use of public funds, facilities, and
employees in performing abortions.
A third bill would bar public funds
from being used in abortion counsel-
ing and a proposed constitutional
amendment would prohibit all public
employees from using their health
benefits for abortions.
The ratio of abortion rights op- li
ponents to pro-choice advocates in a
the state legislature is roughly two ea
to one, but, according to Koehler, A
"The Governor would not place any- a

It's Up to Them



Associated Press



meet the standards of operating
rooms in full care hospitals.
Requiring clinics to meet those stan-
dards would effectively drive the clin-
ics out of business, pro-choice ac-
tivists say, since the clinics would
be required to purchase costly operat-
ing-room equipment. The circuit
court in Illinois ruled there was no
medical need for the clinics to meet
such standards.
In Michigan
The primary effect of the
Webster decision was to
throw the issue back to the
individual states, and allow
them to establish their own guide-
lines. In Michigan, three anti-choice
bills and a constitutional amendment
are pending in the state legislature,
though an official in the Governor's
press office expected more proposals.
Ron Koeler, editor of the
Governor's news office, described the
effect of Webster as "sobering" be-
cause it raised the possibility of
widely varying abortion restrictions
in each of the 50 states. "People be-
gan to wonder if it would be wise to
have a country with patchwork
laws," he said, adding that there are
other important issues besides abor-
tion that the legislature needs to ad-
dress this fall.




America gears up for another
year innthe abortion war
Above: Pro-choice rally in Lansing. At right, anti-abortion protester in front of the Supreme Court. B L au ra C o u n ts

ceive parental consent, she may by-
pass it by petitioning the courts.
The bill's sponsors claim that it
will improve communication in
families, and that it has received
support from both sides of the abor-
tion issue. But there are still many
objections to the bill, and even Gov.
Blanchard says he will not support
"It puts judges in the strange po-
sition of saying, 'You are too young
to have an abortion and therefore you
must become a parent,"' said Robin
Menin, the executive director of
Planned Parenthood of Mid-
Another proposed bill would re-

thing between a woman and her
The abortion battle in Michigan
last year centered around Proposal A,
a state ballot referendum which suc-
ceeded in outlawing Medicaid-funded
abortions. But this year, Governor
Blanchard has proposed legislation to
restore funding in cases of rape,
incest, or to save the life of the
pregnant woman.
Groups like the National
Organization for Women, Planned
Parenthood and Right to Life have
been gearing up to lobby for and
against restrictions on abortion in


Page 8

Weekend/October 6,1989

Weekend/October 6,1989

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