Importance of Roe vs. Wade Cited

El Vaquero Staff Writer

“Abortion is a basic
human right,” said
Amy Exelby, in a lecture on
abortion rights conducted by
the Women’s International
Liberation League (WILL) at
Kreider Hall on Oct. 12.

Abortion has been a controversial
issue for years now,
often sparking debate between
different political groups. With
the special election coming up
in November and a proposition
that concerns abortion,
Proposition 73, appearing on
the ballot, WILL was motivated
to organize a lecture that would
increase awareness on this issue
among voters on campus.

The lecture, titled “The
Future of Roe versus Wade in
the New Supreme Court, was
given by Exelby, the Political
Director and Director of Public
Affairs of Planned Parenthood
Los Angeles.

According to Exelby,
Planned Parenthood is an
organization committed to lobbying
and campaigning for
women’s rights and to ensuring
that comprehensive sex education
is promoted and maintained.

They also promote
reproductive health care and
offer services such as birth control,
STD testing, pregnancy
testing and “abortion care.”
Exelby discussed different
Supreme Court rulings related
to abortion, beginning with the
Roe vs. Wade case in 1973,
which held that a woman’s right
to an abortion fell within her
right to privacy protected by the
14th Amendment. This was also
recognized in an earlier case,
Griswold v. Connecticut
(1965). The Roe v. Wade decision,
based on the right to privacy
between a woman and her
doctor, gave a woman total
autonomy over the pregnancy
during the first three months of

“Roe versus Wade allowed
pre-viability for women to get
an abortion,” Exelby explained.
“After viability, the state had
the right to regulate.”

Exelby briefly mentioned
the Stenberg v. Carthart ruling
of 2000 that “upheld health
exceptions” for women seeking
abortion. She then went into
detail about an upcoming case,
Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood,
which “has to do with a New
Hampshire Law requiring
parental consent if a minor
wants abortion, but doesn’t
have an exception to save the
health of a minor,” said Exelby.
“There’s no exception in the
law that says that if the girl’s
health is in trouble, then she can
have an abortion,” Exelby said.
Exelby also gave the student
and faculty audience an
overview of how the Supreme
Court functions. “The Supreme
Court decides 100 cases a
year,” Exelby said. “Less than
five are related to reproductive
rights, choice, and access to
reproductive health care.”

She discussed the nomination
and affirmation of Chief
Justice John Roberts after the
death of former Chief Justice
Rehnquist, who had given the
dissenting opinion on the Roe v.
Wade case. Roberts had worked
as a law clerk for Rehnquist at
the beginning of the former’s
legal career, and some senators
today fear that Roberts will take
the same stand as Rehnquist
against abortion.

She then went on with the
details of the nomination of
Harriet Miers as a replacement
for Sandra Day O’Connor,
which is an issue among prochoice

She asked the students to
randomly call out words that
they associate with Miers, and
some of the students’ responses
included, “rich,” “lawyer,”
“religious,” “Republican” and
“Bush’s closest ally.”

“There are many questions
raised about her ability to be a
Supreme Court judge,” Exelby
said. “She’s been known to
attend a very conservative
church, and there’s a lot of
back and forth about that,
especially on the Democratic
side.” Exelby also said that
Miers being a conservative
might be a threat to those who
support abortion.

Proposition 73, one of the
propositions that will go on
the ballot for the Nov. 8 special
election, could further
exacerbate the dangers posed
to a young pregnant girl needing
abortion for health reasons,
Exelby said. This
proposition states that “a parent
has to be notified and a
minor has to wait 48 hours in
order to get an abortion.”
Exelby said that
Proposition 73 was “insidious
and scary,” and only puts
young women in danger.

Many questions were
raised among the audience
during the discussion. One
student, who said she was a
mother, argued that as a parent,
“my children are my
responsibility and I should
know what’s going on with
them and help them make

“It’s true that parents
should be involved in their
children’s lives and help them
make life-changing decisions,”
Exelby answered.

“But think of the many young
girls you know who can’t talk
to their parents-the girls
whose parents abuse them,
whose fathers may have even
raped them and gotten them
pregnant. What if their health
was in danger and they needed
an abortion?”

Another member of the
audience asked Exelby about the
scientific findings showing that at
three months, the unborn fetus can
already feel physical pain.

Exelby responded by saying
that these findings “have not yet
been proven,” and that research
done on this subject “was done by
pro-life scientists.” Exelby also
said that a mother’s rights over her
body outweighed the unborn
child’s rights, especially when the
mother’s health and well-being is
in danger.

In response to a student’s question
of whether Planned
Parenthood should not encourage
abstinence instead of abortion,
Exelby said, “Planned Parenthood
totally encourages abstinence, but we all know that it just doesn’t
happen. Our culture is not an
abstinent culture-that’s why we
have to give our young women
more choices.”

Exelby ended by encouraging
all the students, staff and faculty
present to vote in the Nov. 8 special
election and to “say ‘no’ to
Proposition 73.”

WILL meets at noon on
Mondays in LB 210. Send
inquiries regarding future activities to [email protected]