Distancing herself from her likely opponent in her reelection bid for Congress this year, Rep. Lynn Rivers told abortion rights supporters yesterday that in order to preserve abortion as an option for pregnant women, they must not allow anti-abortion politicians to make all the decisions concerning reproductive rights.
Rivers, barring a successful Democratic Party court challenge of the state”s new congressional district lines, will face long-term incumbent John Dingell of Dearborn in an August Democratic Primary.
Ann Arbor”s four-term congresswoman, addressing a joint gathering of the University”s chapters of College Democrats and Students for Choice, said although she does not expect the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade to be overturned anytime soon, new limitations being addressed by Congress have the potential of effectively overturning the landmark 1972 decision.
“If there is not vigilance and action in defeating these proposals, the window afforded to women in exercising these rights gets smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller,” she said.
Citing scorecards of members of Congress compiled by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, Rivers said while she is in favor of allowing abortion without limits, Dingell favors abortion with certain limitations. NARAL scored Rivers” voting record during this session of Congress with 100 percent, Dingell”s with 65 percent. Rivers” score in the last session of Congress was the same under Planned Parenthood, Dingell”s, 73 percent.
Rivers, who was first pregnant at the age of 18 and had her second child by the time she was 21, said she admires those who have strong views on the subject of abortion but do not feel it is their place to impose their view on others.
“Having lived through what I lived through I would never force that decision on somebody else,” she said.
Among the hot-button issues that Rivers cited are legislation classifying unborn fetuses as independent victims of crime, the Bush administration”s prohibiting funding to agencies operating in foreign countries that provide abortions or counsel pregnant women on the issue of having an abortion, legislation prohibiting funding of abortions for women in prison and overturning current law that prohibits military personnel and their dependents from obtaining privately funded abortions overseas.
Rivers and Dingell only voted differently on the subject of classifying unborn fetuses as victims of crime.
Dingell voted to classify the fetuses as such, Rivers did not.
Clair Morrissey, LSA sophomore and executive board member of Students for Choice, said although the group will not likely endorse either Dingell or Rivers until it is clear that they will be running against each other, Students for Choice clearly prefers Rivers.
Asked why she thinks abortion seems to be a more prevalent issue this year, Rivers responded, “in a Democratic primary, choice is always an issue if I think we have a very different record.”