Columnist misunderstands nature of abortion debate
To the Daily:
In Pro-Choice and Hating It (01/10/2005), Daniel Adams misses the point. The real tragedy in this case is that a pregnant 16-year-old thought she had no options but to be the repeated victim of violence by her boyfriend.
Sadly, due to anti-choice regulations and the increasing construction of barriers to choice, such as mandatory waiting periods and parental consent, many young women who become pregnant often feel they cannot rely on the medical community to assist them and decide to take matters into their own hands. The first large anti-choice statue post-Roe v. Wade, the Hyde Amendment, resulted in casualties almost immediately. The amendment cut off all state funding for safe and legal abortions, and Rosie Jimenez, a 27-year-old college student, was desperate. Unable to afford a safe abortion performed by a doctor, she resorted to a back-alley abortion and died as a result. Her body was found with a $700 check for her college tuition in her pocket.
Adams speaks of the “polarizing” of the choice in this country. Students for Choice agrees that the debate has become deconstructive because our focus is in the wrong place. Rather than arguing over the status of a fetus, we need to take measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies through comprehensive sex education, affordable contraception covered by medical insurance and the promotion of healthy relationships. Additionally, we need to provide support for mothers and their children through pre- and neo-natal care and child care services available to all. But in the case that an unwanted pregnancy does occur, a woman must have the option to terminate her pregnancy in a safe and affordable manner.
Our politicians, regardless of party line, have shown that they care about scoring political points rather than caring about the well-being of children, mothers and families. Let’s not fall prey to their rhetoric and demand that we support and care for the children that come into this world.
The letter writers are members of the executive board of Students for Choice.
Abortion is a medical procedure, not a crime
To the Daily:
I find it hard to believe that Daniel Adams, who ostensibly has had at least a partial college education, fails to see the difference between a safe, legal abortion and what happened recently in Macomb County (Pro-choice and hating it, 01/10/2005). Granted, in both cases a fetus is killed, so I guess that for people who only care about the fetus and have no concern for the woman carrying it, there may not be a significant difference. And that’s still assuming that death through prolonged and repeated blunt trauma is not any worse than any of the relatively quick ways abortion can take place.
Most people, though, probably have some concern for the women involved, who are actual human beings according to every ethical system I am familiar with, rather than potential human persons. And if women figure into the abortion issue at all, there’s a huge difference between a procedure performed in a hospital using a surgical-grade vacuum and what a scared teenage boyfriend did with a bat. In one case, a woman is in a safe hospital environment and typically experiences only slight to moderate discomfort, akin to menstrual cramping. In the other, a woman was beaten repeatedly in the abdomen with a bat. Let me repeat that key point: A woman was beaten, by her boyfriend, with a bat.
I hope I don’t go too far out on a limb when I say that beating a woman with a bat, or beating a man with a bat, or beating a child, or a dog or cat should never be okay.
Adams may himself have conveniently ignored the procedures he claims to defend, but most of the pro-choice individuals I know would appreciate being left out of the “we” he accuses of disregarding the realities of abortion. I am doubtless in the company of millions of other pro-choicers when I say that I understand exactly what abortion is and what it does. I also understand that for many pregnant women it is the only available option. I understand that if it weren’t for unwarranted restrictions like mandatory 24-hour waiting periods for a surgical procedure no one does on a whim, certain women might be able to have it done safely and legally early in pregnancy instead of getting beaten repeatedly with a bat.
‘U’ partly to blame for housing situation
To the Daily:
In response to Jesse Levine’s viewpoint (Addressing Ann Arbor’s tenant problems, 01/10/2005), I sincerely hope that the Housing Legal Reform Project can effectively represent and empower off-campus renters. Renters would not be in such a poor position if the University could provide acceptable campus housing at a reasonable price. Had the funds that fueled former University President Lee Bollinger’s quixotic Great Leap Forward in the life sciences been devoted to building modern dormitories, students on and off campus could today inhabit better, cheaper living spaces.
The proposal for a new dormitory to replace the dilapidated Frieze Building is attractive. Local property owners, however, have monetary incentives to suppress dormitory construction. Expect a fight over this and any future attempts at ameliorating our housing crisis. I implore the University employees responsible to meet the needs of current and future students and not to wilt in the face of community pressure. Expensive and inadequate housing is a drain on the student population and, ultimately the entire University. For starters, let’s demolish the Frieze Building and build North Quad to the sky!
Professors and publishers affect textbook prices
To the Daily:
I support Mike Roth’s letter to the editor (Daily textbook shopping suggestions are ‘dead on,’ 01/10/2005) and the Daily’s editorial (Buying books, 01/07/2005) about the concerns of the textbook purchasing system and the increasing textbook prices. The solutions in both articles were commendable and had good ideas of how the University and students can alleviate the problems of buying textbooks. Students could also make use of book exchanges as well, such as www.dogears.net and the Student Book Exchange.
Nevertheless, both the Daily’s editorial and Roth’s article left out some key actions that professors and the University could take to combat increasing prices. Price increases can be caused when publishing companies update textbooks but change very little of the actual content. Many of these new editions come with “bundled” materials, such as CD-ROMs, answer booklets and other excess materials that are sometimes not used at all in the duration of a course. Unfortunately, when professors assign the new edition of a textbook, the cheaper, older edition cannot be used for the course. Because these excess materials and small content changes raise textbook prices significantly, professors should not assign these more expensive, newer “bundled” textbooks for their courses. In the case that the new edition must be used, professors should work to accommodate students who wish to use older versions of textbooks. For example, professors could provide online supplements of the updated portions of the text to complement the older editions of the textbooks.
Besides using creative solutions to decrease textbook costs, professors should use their standing to communicate student concerns to publishing companies. Recently, the California Public Interest Research Group, wrote letters to textbook companies urging them to decrease unnecessary textbook updates and has worked to pass bills to prevent this problem. CALPIRG had found that many of the high textbook prices are not set by local bookstores, but instead by the national publishing companies. Because publishers rely on professors to use their materials, they will listen to their concerns. If professors and the University would stand up to these publishing companies and push them to make textbook prices more affordable and textbook packages more efficient, then the problems associated with increasing textbook costs can be lessened. Moreover, if professors become more aware of textbook prices and student concerns, textbook costs would not be quite so burdensome.
The letter writer is a member of Students for Public Interest Research Group in Michigan.