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Pro-choice supporters propose legislation

by Loren Moreno, Student Life editor

On Jan. 22, the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, women’s rights leaders, including Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, introduced the Freedom of Choice Act—legislation that seeks to make permanent the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that a women has a right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term.


Boxer introduced the bill, arguing that conservatives in the United States have continuously attempted to undermine women’s reproductive rights and the 1973 Supreme Court ruling. The National Organization of Women describes the proposed legislation as “a landmark piece of legislation designed to protect women’s civil liberties and prohibit the government from interfering in the exercise of reproductive rights.”

The act would rearticulate Roe v. Wade by protecting a women’s right to abortion as a reproductive option. It would also give women more choices of hospitals or clinics, since public institutions would not be able to prohibit abortions. Proponents also applaud efforts to allow poor women access to the procedures by opening Medicaid funding to them.

There is staunch opposition to this legislation. Only a few months ago, conservatives and the Bush Administration celebrated a landmark victory for the anti-choice agenda. In December 2003, President Bush signed into law the “partial-birth abortion ban.” In a written statement, Bush said, “I applaud the Senate for joining the House in passing the ban on ‘partial-birth abortion.’ This is very important legislation that will end the abhorrent practice and continue to build a culture of life in America.”

Boxer said the passing of the ban represented a “very sad day for the women of America and a very sad day for the families of America,” because such a ban is the first of its kind to make no exception for the health of the mother.

The Freedom of Choice Act would seek to prohibit any interference with a woman’s right to continue her pregnancy or to end it. Boxer said that the legislation would replace any other law, regulation, ban, or ordinance that seeks to “impinge on women’s rights.”

The outlook for the legislation looks dim. CNN has reported that this legislation will most likely meet certain death in committee and never make it to the Senate or House floor. The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the National Organization of Women have all started petition and letter-writing campaigns to boost support for the bill.

Boxer is optimistic about the bill’s chances. She has gathered a list of backers that include numerous senators and representatives. In a written statement on her Web site, Boxer said, “Anti-choice is anti-women, anti-equality, and it demonstrates a lack of respect for the intelligence and compassion that women possess. It is time to write Roe v. Wade into law.”


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