Pro-choice majority doesn't
To the Editor:
We are writing in regards to James Baumberger's October 10 article, "Pro-choice strategy wrong on partial-birth abortion." While we commend Baumberger for addressing an extremely sensitive and controversial topic, we wish to correct some of his assumptions about "partial-birth" abortions and the pro-choice and anti-choice movements.
Mr. Baumberger's article was based on the premise that the pro-choice movement picked "partial-birth" abortion as the battle to fight. We remind him that the majority political party in a house of Congress sets the agenda for that house. The pro-choice movement fights the battles that arise in Congress, so when a bill banning "partial-birth" abortion comes up, that is what pro-choice groups fight. We assure Mr. Baumberger that were the pro-choice movement in charge of legislation and debate topics of debate in Congress, things would be very different.
One of the issues in "partial-birth" abortion that Mr. Baumberger didn't mention is the problematic wording in state laws. As he acknowledges, "partial-birth" abortion isn't a medical term, but many states have been passed laws that don't specify what "partial-birth" abortion is. This leaves the definition open to interpretation regarding many types of procedures and is one reason pro-choice groups have so vocally opposed the bans.
Mr. Baumberger wrote, "In recent years, more Americans identified themselves as pro-life rather than pro-choice, which was not the case several years ago." He should look at the recent polls which show that 31 percent (Pew Foundation) to 35 percent (Gallup/USA Today) of Americans believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned. According to Planned Parenthood, 70 percent of voters agree that abortion decisions need to be made by women with their families and doctors. These statistics indicate a pro-choice majority.
Perhaps the most baffling part of Mr. Baumberger's article is his quick dismissal of the argument that "banning partial-birth abortion would only be the first of many provisions on the slippery slope towards restrictive abortion laws." In looking back at the last three years, it is evident that we are already on that slippery slope. George Bush has an anti-choice vice president, attorney general, and secretary of health and human services. He has repeatedly made efforts to redefine the lawful status of a fetus, thereby enabling legal phrases to define abortion as murder. He has nominated anti-choice judges (Estrada, Pickering, and Owen, for example) in an attempt to restrict abortions through lower levels of the judiciary. On the first day of his presidency, he re-enacted the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits any health care provider outside the U.S and receiving American funding from mentioning abortion as an option for patients. Just last Tuesday, the Senate passed a ban on "partial-birth" abortion that will soon reach Bush and undoubtedly become a law.
The anti-choice movement reaches even farther. Bush believes that abstinence-only sex education should be the only thing taught in public schools. He named a cofounder of an anti-condom group to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. The government also cut information from the Center for Disease Control website about abortion and condom effectiveness.
Given all of this, we find it impossible not to believe that the anti-choice minority wants to take away all rights related to choice.
There are many reasons to support the right to choose at all stages of pregnancy, but we will not do that here. We merely want to provide Mr. Baumberger and the Bowdoin community with the real facts surrounding the anti-choice movement and why we, as members of the pro-choice majority, are not willing to "concede the partial-birth abortion ban" as he suggests we do.