Critical issues vital to voters

Stephanie Kudrle

The question of whether abortion is a religious or governmental issue is as common today as it was in 1973, when the Supreme Court decided to make it legal.

In this election, the presidential candidates have taken divisive stances for or against abortion.

And although abortion might not be the deciding issue in this election, a lot of voters care about it, University political science professor Bill Flanigan said.

He said that at this point, neither President George

W. Bush nor Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry will sway swing voters with their stances on abortion. But the issue is important to their loyal supporters, Flanigan said.

“A candidate campaigns to win over new voters,” he said. “But you also want to inspire people who support you to go vote and maybe take a neighbor with them.”

Approximately 45 percent of University students described abortion as a very important issue in this election, according to September’s Minnesota Daily poll.

In general, abortion was a more important issue to women than to men. Approximately 56 percent of women in the survey said it was very important, versus 30 percent of men.

Abortion is not like taxes or any other issue in this election, said Anne Billion, president of the University Pro-Life Coalition.

“This is about the sanctity of life,” she said. “A lot of people are ignorant and don’t know how horrible abortion is.”

Billion said she was angry Kerry claimed to be a Catholic while supporting abortion rights.

“If you claim to have a moral upright standing, then your living calls you to spread the word,” said Billion, who is Catholic.

Abortion is a moral issue and a biological issue, she said, and many doctors have confirmed that life begins at conception.

But Stacey Keenan, co-president of the University Choice Coalition, said abortion is more an issue of personal privacy and choice.

“Everyone has the right to make their own decisions,” Keenan said. “Abortion is a personal decision between a woman, her God and her doctor.”

Keenan said the idea that life begins at conception is a personal belief and should not be forced on the general population.

Bush has a radical right-wing agenda, she said, and will appoint judges to overturn Roe v. Wade if elected to a second term.

“It’s a big deal, and a lot of people don’t realize it,” Keenan said. “Bush poses a threat to legalized abortion.”

In 2004, 38 percent of unintended pregnancies among University students resulted in an abortion, according to a Boynton Health Service survey.

The survey polled 6,000 students and had approximately a 54 percent response rate, said Katie Lust, a health assessment specialist for Boynton.

Approximately 3.7 percent of survey respondents indicated they had been pregnant or impregnated someone in the last year, Lust said.

That works out to approximately 117 pregnancies among the respondents, she said, and out of those pregnancies, 55 were unintentional. Approximately 21 of the unintended pregnancies were aborted.

In general, abortion is a very divisive issue, Flanigan said, and the government’s stance on it could change depending on who is elected Nov. 2.

“There are a lot of people who consider this so important they may decide which candidate or party to support all up and down the ticket based on it,” he said.