Thirty-one years after Roe v. Wade became part of
American law, last night’s event in Hutchins Hall showed that
abortion is still a wildly controversial issue.

Laura Wong
Keynote speaker Kate Michelman speaks at the Losing our Choice: The Bush Administration & Reproductive Rights panel discussion In Hutchins Hall last night. (ALI OLSEN/Daily)

Several abortion rights supporters shared their own experiences,
in addition to addressing the Bush Administration’s agenda on
women’s reproductive rights.

Sponsored by Students for Choice, keynote speaker Kate
Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive
Rights Action League Pro-Choice America, expressed concerns about
the Bush administration’s reproductive rights policies. She
is worried about the pro-life judicial appointments she said Bush
could make, especially if he wins re-election in November.

“If the president sits in the White House for another four
years, the right to choose as we know it will be lost.”

A Michigan alum, Michelman encouraged students to become more
involved in the political sphere, inviting them to the upcoming
March for Women’s Lives on April 25, in Washington.

“We hope it to be a historic march for women’s
rights. It’s important that Michigan be represented in the
march,” Michelman said.

Michelman shared personal reasons for her commitment to the her
cause: “Probably the most profound influence was my own pre-
abortion, before abortion was legal, when I was humiliated and
degraded in the face of the law.” She added that she wants to
save women from the same fate.

Alma Wheeler Smith, a Michigan alum who served in the State
Senate, expressed her doubt over the Bush administration’s
promotion of abstinence as safe sex.

“Abstinence is okay, but the teenagers I have talked to
say abstinence just doesn’t fly.” Stressing the
hardship that women face, Smith added, “In the state of
Michigan there are very few clinics that offer abortion
services.”

Following Smith was Dr. Laszlo Sogor, Medical Director of
Planned Parenthood in Cleveland, doctor of obstetrics and
gynecology and professor at Case Western Reserve University. Sogor
stated the importance of autonomy, the right for people to make
their own decisions, especially in health care.

“Nobody else can judge for you . . . Abortion and
contraceptive services are ethical.”

Student reactions to the speakers varied dramatically. LSA
sophomore Rebecca Mark was receptive to the political message the
speakers conveyed.

“It’s going to be so important in the next election
for women to understand certain groups are trying to take away
their rights for choice,” she said.

An opposing view came from Louise Conlon, LSA senior and
president of Students for Life. “In contrast to Students for
Choice, we feel that every life is valuable: the life of the woman,
the life of the child; they’re equally valuable. One does not
have precedence over the other,” Conlon said.

Although the state of Michigan currently has no anti-choice or
pro-choice legislation, Smith emphasized the need for youth to
participate in all aspects of their government.

“We have seen the Bush Administration take off on many
policies states have begun and make them very real on a federal
level…If half of the 18-35 year olds voted, you would knock
our socks off.”

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