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liable information within their financial reach to plan their childbearing-always on a voluntary basis. While my activities in the field of family planning have been exclusively as a volunteer, I am professionally trained as a counselor, having received the M.A. degree in that specialty from Washington University as recently as 1968. Let me anticipate your possible questions and add that: I am married to a lawyer, we are the parents of three grown children, and the grandparents of three. I am a lay reader in the Episcopal Church.
Obviously, with this background and experience, I speak not as an expert--you have heard from many in many fields—but as an active citizen. I intend to limit my remarks to the question before the committee which is, I understand: Shall the Federal Constitution be amended to deny women the right to choose whether to continue pregnancy, a right upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in January of 1973. I hope to focus on the moral issue surrounding the right of privacy and freedom of conscience for the individual woman.
Our committee supports the decision of the court and continues to believe that it represents a compromise in that it leaves open and available the option of abortion, yet imposes it on no woman. The court recognized that a woman is more than a reproductive unit-to use a label applied by one of our opponents whom you have heard here, that she is a person of dignity, competent to make decisions about the most intimate aspect of her life. The court opinion frees her to act according to her best judgment--and she will aways choose the greater good as she see it. Her childbearing is not to be dictated by the State; before the court ruled, legislatures could hold that a woman must bear that child, once pregnant. For compulsion by legislatures, the Supreme Court decision substitutes the judgment of the individual woman; she is given the privilege to choose according to her own reason and moral sense. Surely this is the way we have traditionally dealt with moral choices in our free society—with high regard for a wide diversity of views. There is nothing in the Supreme Court decision that prohibits a woman from acting in according with the moral teachings of her church, nor from seeking counsel with any other source of help that she respects. The moral and ethical teachings she received will be factors in her decision, of course. The kind of teaching that will reduce the need for abortion might be a more constructive program for those against abortion rights than attacking the U.S. Supreme Court. I am speaking of early instruction in sexuality and values of family planning in the schools, involving parents ideally. The goal of such courses should be to “develop positive standards of responsible sexuality and responsible parenthood"_to quote from the Reverend Warren Schaller whom you heard for the opposition on August 21.
Our position that the abortion decision is rightfully the woman's is far from advocating abortion. And it is a long way from giving the States the power to compel a woman to go through with an undesired pregnancy; or the power to compel a woman to terminate it. This fear of government control is very real to our opponents. Yet experience in other countries does not justify that fear. For example, Sweden and Denmark legalized abortion in the 1930's, Japan in 1948. Nothing like imposed euthanasia, or compulsory sterilization, or gov
ernment dictation of family size has occurred. The enormity of Hitler's genocidal programs is often cited. Yet the fact is that under Hitler, Germany passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in history, making even the act of assisting in an abortion a penal offense!
Another objection that is made to the Supreme Court decision is that it has reduced the powers of the State to legislate. I do not understand this argument. In the first place, a State reasonably regulate the abortion procedure for the protection of maternal health after the first trimester-during which the decision must be left to the woman and her doctor. Second, the State's power to prohibit abortion after viability is upheld, provided that continuation of the pregnancy does not threaten the life or health of the woman. What more restrictive provision can there be that does not abridge the right of the individual woman? In holding as it did, the Court was not usurping the authority of the legislatures. It simply pointed out the limits of the constitutional rights of the pregnant woman, and thus of the States authority to legislate.
The States have shown down the years a legitimate interest in the health of women through enactment of medical practice statutes, through penalties for the illicit practice of medicine, through guidelines developed by the appropriate professional agencies. It is not clear to us that additional legislation at any level is needed. We prefer that the law remain silent on the subject. A statement from the late Father John Courtney Murray, one of the principal architects of the Second Vatican Council on Religious Freedom, seems pertinent here:
Laws should seek to maintain only that minimum of actualized morality that is necessary for the healthy functioning of the social order. Is is prudent to undertake the enforcement of this or that ban ... in view of the possible harmful effects in other areas of social life? Is the instrumentality of coercive law a good means for the eradication of this or that social vice?
This statement of principle relates directly, I believe, to the divisive issue which confronts us. Dissatisfaction with the Court's decision has precipitated a controversy marked by a rancor and fanaticism that are regrettable at a time in the Nation's history when we need to draw closer together. These destructive feelings will surely intensify and a disastrous cleavage result if the proposed amendments pass the Congress and go to the States for ratification. It is saddening to think of such a cruel eventuality. Of all aspects of a woman's life that should be supportively surrounded with compassion and sensitivity it is her childbearing. In this man's world—for so it still is—we turn to you for that kind of understanding. We ask you to turn down the constitutional measures before you.
Since reproductive discretion is our objective-and this is well served in the Supreme Court decision-we do not believe that we need state a position on other issues with which our adversaries would like to associate us. However, there are two points that I feel obliged to make in rebuttal to arguments I know you have heard here. The first is that we advocate abortion as a method of contraception. As I have said, we are not advocating abortion, but a woman's right to choose. Furthermore, abortion is by definition not a contraceptive method; it is user after conception has occurred. We do not regard it as a sub
stitute for the practice of contraception, but as a remedy for failed contraception or a lack of prudence or simply innocence of human biology. In the perfect world, there will be no need for abortion, for we will have a fail-proof contraceptive universally employed and every pregnancy will be planned. Hasten the day. The other criticism directed at us which I would like to answer is that we are depriving adoptive parents of children to adopt. At least that is the way I read our adversaries' bumper stickers. In the first place, it seems to me that adoption was devised originally to provide homes for children who had none. Have we not switched things around so that unwilling women must be compelled by the State to deliver children for adults who cannot have their own? What a diabolical use of a woman. Perhaps this is the function the speaker had in mind in referring to women as "a reproductive unit”! Furthermore, to require by law that a woman go through with an unwanted pregnancy and then compound her misery by offering as a solution the relinquishing of the child seems to me utterly heartless. As to the supply of children available for adoption, I should like to quote from a release from the Children's Bureau of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare dated April 19, 1974; headed "Statistics Pertaining to Children in Need of Abortion":
Although there are no firm statistics as to the number available, it is known that the vast majority of children for whom adoption might be suitable are over 6 years of age, are physically, mentally, or emotionally handicapped, or are in large family groups where the children should not be separated.
Recent estimates of the number of children who could profit by adoption indicate that there might be about 100,000, most of whom are currently in foster care.
This information seems to me to speak against the argument that women should be compelled to go through with unwanted pregnancies to supply children for adoption.
Reproductive freedom is our objective. It is abridged without access to abortion, a right upheld by the Supreme Court decision. Women do have problem pregnancies.
I have here included the report of two cases that have recently come to my attention.
One, a 40-year-old mother of four planned children, another a 17year-old college freshman. I think in the interest of time I will not read those, since you have heard numerous cases recited here by Pam Lowry.
Senator Bayh. We will in the record. Yes, they are in your text.
Ms. ROUDERBUSH. Let me tell you about two cases that have recently come to my attention.
A 40-year-old mother of four planned children finds herself pregnant, despite the practice of contraception. Her husband has been handicapped in such a way that he can no longer work. She has taken a job to supplement his meager compensation and help meet the mounting expense of education for her children. This is possible for her now that the youngest child is in school most of the day. The prospect of going through a potentially dangerous, late pregnancy to deliver an unwanted infant is devastating to her. Added to which is the insoluble problem of family finances if she quits work to bring up a child. Should she not have the right to choose to have a medically
safe abortion? Or does society feel it can make a judgment for her and condemn her and the child to a dismal future? By what authority can we make that judgment !
Or another case. A 17-year-old college freshman on a scholarship, overwhelmed by her new liberties, has too much beer at her first allnight party, and finds three weeks later that she is pregnant. She comes from a family where sex was not discussed, from a school with taboos against any kind of instruction in family planning, from a community just getting underway with birth control clinics that will treat minors. What now are her alternatives? Society afforded poor ones before the Supreme Court decision legalized abortion. Let's look at them. There is marriage—if she could be sure which boy, was responsible and coerce him. Percentage of success for those marriages is very low. She might go to another city, have the child and put it out for adoption. This would mean giving up her scholarship, giving up college, maybe forever. Giving up an infant. She might keep the child and raise it alone. Would her mother be overjoyed to take care of that out-of-wedlock child while the teenager went out to work to support it? Then there are the desperate alternatives—like attempting brutal self-abortion, or even suicide. How can a humane society take away from this young woman the option of safe, legal abortion available now under the Supreme Court decision? How would a return to the days of the back-alley operator serve this woman-or the common good? We need to ask ourselves whether it is not rather our vindicative craving to punish that would be served.
In Missouri sa fe, legal abortion is available—subject to recently imposed restrictions which we deplore and which are not being challenged in court cases. Women who choose this solution to a problem pregnancy can be treated at clinics in the St. Louis area, at Columbia, and in the Kansas City area. Some 7,300 women chose this solution in 1973, according to figures released by the Missouri Center for Health Statistics-although some of them had to go out of the State for treatment. There is no reliable way of comparing this figure with the number of illegal abortions done prior to January 22, 1973. Because they were outside the law they were not recorded, for the protection of the woman, her family, her physician. Deaths related to criminal abortion were ascribed to septicemia or hemorrhage, for the same reason. The view that the option of safe, legal abortion must remain available as made possible by the Court's decision is gaining adherents in Missouri. Our membership grows daily, as do financial donations. Support among the professional groups is evidenced in our letterhead: We have advisory groups of medical specialists-including the chief of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis--and of clergymen—including the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. A dozen or more influential organizations, several with statewide memberships, have joined us in support of liberalized abortion laws and of the Supreme Court decision. You have a list attached to your script, I believe.
Let me say, however, that even if there were not such general support for the Court, even if we are to be in the minority, our rights still would deserve the protection of the Constitution. We resist the possibility that a crusade mounted primarily by a religious group seeking implementation in the civil law of their sectarian belief
could deprive us of our constitutional rights. We therefore ask that, as you deliberate, you put first the rights of women and assure us that you value our capacity to make wise judgments in this most personal decision, where individual conscience must govern.
I like the way Bishop George Cadigan expressed his views some 3 years ago :
Proposed legalization of abortion in the State of Missouri has precipitated violent debate which has focused disproportionately on the acceptability or unacceptability of this means of solving an undesired pregnancy. Regard for the sancitity of life has been repeatedly invoked, as ifonly some of us valued, or appreciated, the true worth of human life *
The "rightness" or "wrongness” of abortion * is not the critical issue here. The issue is the larger ethical one: Can any one of us stand in the role of judge for the personal decisions of others? What robes shall we wear? Greater than the debatable immorality of terminating an undesired pregnancy is the immorality of refusing a woman access to medical help when she has determined that she needs it. A law that compels a woman to continue an undesired pregnancy is evil-as evil as a law that would compel her to have an abortion.
If there is any single thought that I would like to leave with you it is: that pregnancy is a deeply significant event in a woman's life. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is equally significant. The woman must be trusted to make that decision and have the freedom to act upon it without interference by the State.
That concludes my testimony.
TESTIMONY OF MRS. GEORGE S. ROUDEBUBH, BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF
NATIONAL ABORTION RIGHTS ACTION LEAGUE Senator Bayh and members of the Committee: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you about this serious matter in an atmosphere that is deliberate and trustful. I commend you for the many hearings you have held relative to these proposed amendments and the spirit of fairness and honest inquiry with which they have conducted.
I am Mrs. George Roudebush of St. Louis, Mo., president of the Committee for Legal Abortion in Missouri. Our citizens' group was formed in 1969, at first to establish in Missouri the legal right of any woman to secure a safe abortion; and to protect that right, after the Supreme Court decision of January 22, 1973, affirmed it. Our Committee is affiliated with the National Abortion Rights Action League, of which I am a director.
My interest in many aspects of family planning and maternal health extends over many years and has led me into many activities. I am currently on the Board of Directors of the Planned Parenthood Association of St. Louis, and on its Speakers' Bureau. In the sixties I headed a citizens' committee to initiate birth control services in public health institutions of the city and county. Subsequently I chaired a coalition task force bringing together agencies in the field, which has now developed into the St. Louis Metropolitan Area Council for voluntary Family Planning, Inc. These activities all stem from my abiding belief that women are entitled to know how to manage their reproductive life, for their good, for the good of their children, for the well-being of society. My concern tells me further that they must have access to the best possible medical services and reliable information within their financial reach to plan their child-bearing-always on a VOLUNTARY basis. While my activities in the field of family planning have been exclusively as a volunteer, I am professionally trained as a counselor, having received the M.A. degree in that speciality from Washington University as recently as 1968. Let me anticipate your possible questions and add that: I am married to a lawyer, we are the parents of three grown children, and the grandparents of three. I am a lay reader in the Episcopal Church.
With this background and experience, I obviously speak not as an expertyou have heard from many in many fields—but as an active citizen. I intend