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The Minnesota Daily

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Protect the right to choose by removing Bush from office

On the day of the 31st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, a woman’s right to choose an abortion – the single option that ultimately determines whether she controls her destiny during her childbearing years – is gravely imperiled. And its only security lies in an alert, vigilant, active citizenry devoted to its protection.

Roe v. Wade recognized the fundamental relationship between the constitutional guarantee of liberty and a woman’s right to control and decide the most intimate aspects of her life. That recognition transformed women’s experience: It saved their lives, protected their health, fostered equality and paved the way for greater equity in all aspects of national life.

President George W. Bush has openly said his ultimate goal is to overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortion. He attempts, however, to keep the issue under the national radar, by saying the United States is not yet ready to follow him or to ban abortion.

But should any of us be reassured by the president’s statements?

Imagine this reasoning applied to any other fundamental right. Imagine a president saying, “I don’t believe in freedom of religion, but the United States is not ready to repeal the First Amendment yet.” We would hardly find that comforting. On the contrary, we would rise up. That is exactly what we must do today, because the United States might not be ready for a ban on abortions, but Bush plainly is.

Look at the facts. This is a president who has ruthlessly exported his ideology by stripping foreign family-planning organizations of desperately needed U.S. funds – an act of blatant inhumanity that puts thousands of lives at risk. Virtually all his nominees to lifetime appointments on the federal bench pose a clear and present threat to a woman’s right to choose. And last year, with the simple stroke of his pen, he became the first president in American history to threaten doctors with jail terms for performing safe medical procedures.

All of this is ominous enough. But what has happened is only a precursor to what lies ahead. Bush and his anti-choice allies have spent the last several years taking choices away one procedure, one woman, one country at a time – going most aggressively after the rights of women who are least able to fight back: poor women, minority women, young women and others living in the quiet corners of our society and our world. Without a pro-choice president and enough votes in the Senate to block the most extreme judicial nominees, a woman’s right to choose cannot


Once the constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade disappear, anti-choice legislation would rapidly become the law of the land. Without Roe v. Wade, nearly 20 states – yes, including Minnesota – would likely pass laws either banning or severely restricting abortion rights. And the very same White House and Congress that just enacted a ban on some procedures would be free to pursue their openly stated goal: banning all


To those who believe such an unthinkable event could never occur, I say: If a ban on abortion is introduced in Congress, as it surely would be, would the leadership -House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.; House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas; Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., all avowed foes of a woman’s right to choose – work against it? Would Bush veto it?

Of course not. They want to ban abortion, and with Roe v. Wade out of the way, nothing could stop them.

Roe v. Wade’s future depends on the votes Americans cast this November. We can elect a pro-choice president in 2004, and a woman’s right to choose can be an important factor in winning votes and driving the gender gap for the pro-choice alternative to Bush. We know we can do this because we did it in 1992. At this stage of that campaign, pundits said there was no way an incumbent president riding a wave of wartime popularity could be defeated. That Bush went on to lose, and a careful analysis of election returns showed that this issue, a woman’s right to choose, was decisive for an important group of swing voters.

Then, Americans were one Supreme Court justice away from losing their right to choose. We mobilized – one person, one community, one state at a time. We put a pro-choice president into the White House, and he put two pro-choice justices on the court. We can do it again.

Timothy Stanley is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota. Send comments to [email protected]

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