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COALITION FOR FREEDOM OF CHOICE,
Minneapolis, Minn., March 4, 1974. Senator BIRCH BAYH, Chairman, Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.O.
DEAR SENATOR BAYH: The undersigned organizations, constituting the Coalition for Freedom of Choice, do hereby submit the enclosed testimony regarding S.J. 119, which is currently before the Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. Sincerely,
Coordinator. Ad Hoc Physicians Committee for Freedom of Choice. Association of Universalist Women. American Association of University Women, Minnesota Division. Abortion Counseling Service of Minnesota. Abortion Rights Counsel of Minnesota. Dakota County Citizens for Freedom of Choice. DFL Feminist Caucus of Minnesota. Elizabeth Blackwell Women's Health Center. GOP Women for Political Effectiveness. Minnesota Feminists. Minnesota Psychological Association. Minnesota Women's Political Caucus. Minnesota Women's Abortion Action Coalition. National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota Sections. Planned Parenthood of Minnesota. Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. Social Action Committee of the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. Socialist Worker's Party. Southside Comunity Health Coalition. Twin Cities Chapter, National Organization for Women. Twin Cities Women's Union. United Church of Christ, Minnesota. West Suburban Council for Women's Liberation. Women's Rights Committee of the Minnesota Federation of Teachers. Young Socialists. Zero Population Growth.
TESTIMONY REGARDING S.J. 119 The Coalition for Freedom of Choice represents 28 Minnesota professional, service, religious, political and feminist organizations, having a total membership of more than 70,000 Minnesotans. We share the belief that abortion should be a matter for individual decision, based on each person's convictions, and we support the Supreme Court rulings of January 22, 1973, which made it possible for people to exercise their freedom of conscience in this matter.
We wish to express our strong opposition to S.J. 119, which is now before the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. We believe that the definitions established by the Supreme Court are consistent with the principles of good health care, with the pluralistic nature of our society and with its legal framework. S.J. 119 is in conflict with all of these.
First, we believe that this amendment represents a step backward in terms of health care. The restrictive abortion laws which were struck down at last in part an attempt at protecting the health of women. Women, however, continued to seek abortions, often getting them at the hands of illegal abortionists, and the protective laws were the cause of untold suffering. Prior to legal abortion, the complications arising from criminal abortions constituted, in areas like New York City, the major single cause of maternal death. In areas where abortion has been legalized for a statistically measurable amount of time, there has been a marked decrease in maternal death rates. By denying safe, legal access to abortion to most American women, S.J. 119 is unlikely to eliminate it. Instead, it will remove abortion from the protection of medical standards of health care and relegate it once more to the status of an unregulated criminal procedure.
Second, this amendment is in direct conflict with the traditional separation of church and state in this country. Our laws have protected freedom of religion and freedom from religion, guaranteeing freedom of conscience to both majority and minority points of view. By imposing the theology and beliefs of one or two denominations upon all citizens of this country, S.J. 119 sets a dangerous precedent.
Finally, we do not believe that the implications of granting legal personhood to what S.J. 119 refers to as the "unborn" have been evaluated in the context of our entire legal system. There appears to be no historical precedent for recognizing the "unborn" as persons in the constitutional sense. In addition, enactment of this amendment could throw into chaos entire areas of long-established law having no relationship to abortion.
It is our hope that S.J. 119 will be rejected as both unnecessary and unwise, and that future congressional action may be directed toward developing programs of education, family planning services and contraceptive research that will help reduce the need for abortion.
ASSOCIATION FOR GRAND JURY ACTION, INC.,
Rochester, N.Y., March 31, 1974. Senator Birch Bay, Chairman, Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
Dear Senator Bayu: Even though your hearings on the abortion amendment have been concluded may we ask that this letter and accompanying petition be made a part of the hearing record.
We take no stand on the matter of abortion but are interested solely in the constitutional process. This amendment is not the proper way to counteract a Supreme Court decision. The petition suggests a better method.
Didn't we learn a long time ago that a constitutional amendment wouldn't stop alcohol and resulted in widespread evasion? The same will happen if this amendment is passed. Please consider the arguments in our petition. Very truly yours,
ROBERT E. KESEL,
Petition Before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives ASSOCIATION FOR GRAND JURY ACTION, INC., 67 NORTHAMPTON STREET, ROCH
ESTER, NEW YORK 14606; RALPH BORYSZEWSKI, CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, 67 NORTHAMPTON STREET, ROCHESTER, NEW YORK; AND ROBERT E. KESEL, 98 ROYLESTON ROAD, ROCHESTER, NEW YORK; PETITIONERS
BARBER B. CONABLE, REPRESENTATIVE, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HOUSE OFFICE
BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.; FRANK HORTON, REPRESENTATIVE, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.; JACOB JAVITS, SENATOR, U.S. SENATE, SENATE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.; AND JAMES BUCKLEY, SENATOR, U.S. SENATE, SENATE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C., RESPONDENTS
CONGRESS HAS MANY ALTERNATIVES TO SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
Our Constitution was never meant to be cluttered by amendments covering every single subject matter that causes and arouses controversy such as abortion. Senator Buckley is proposing a constitutional amendment to bann abortions when in reality this could be brought about by the mere enactment of statute. Congress too often avoids its rightful responsibilities and lets the Supreme Court make vital decisions because the court does not have to run for relection. The Congres is obligated to review all supreme court decisions which it has failed to do. In instances where the Supreme Court decided cases in which it had original jurisdiction, the Congress could change such decisions only by amending the Constitution. Such amendment could (1) consist of revising a specific Supreme Court decision or (2) deprive the court of the right to hear under such original authority in all future cases.
The Congress may by law limit the Court's right to decide cases dealing with the abortion matter. Art. III Sec. 2 of the Constitution empowers congress to make "exceptions and regulations” to the Court's appellate jurisdiction. The Constitution thusly explicitly makes our elected legislators the supreme judges by simply majority vote of what kinds of cases the Court may decide. Our founding fathers wanted the Congress, not the courts, to decide at times the extent to which the federal judicial powers should be used, where it was not specifically spelled out.
Congress has the power, by enactment of a statute to hit at what it deems judicial excess. A controlling number of lawyers in Congress, however, have failed the people by their attempts to serve two masters, one the judicial the other the legislative. Congress therefore has not used its power exclusively in the people's interest.
The judges were never intended to be the sole arbiters of the Constitution. The makers of the Constitution decided that Congrss should have the duty to define what constitutional limitations it was empowered to curb in cases of excess by the Courts. Congress has failed in this duty all too often. The House in 1964, did vote 218 to 175 to forbid the Court to interfere in state legislative apportionments. Under Article III this majority vote was sufficient. The Senate wrongfully sought passage of the measure as a constitutional amendment and the required two-thirds majority missed by seven votes.
If it desired Congress could limit by law Supreme Court membership to only one or at most two judges and could further forbid such judges from citing dissenting opinions to mollify any of its decision.
Under our Constitution, Art, V a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote of Congress and ratification by three fourths of the State legislatures. We are in effect permitting a combination of five supreme court judges with one third of either Senate or House to radically amend our Constitution.
It is up to our elected representatives to discipline and limit the powers of our judges for the people are denied such a direct check on the judges by themselves.
Wherefore petitioners pray: that Senator Buckley's amendment be scrapped as improper and unnecessary and that legislaiton instead be introduced in the matter of abortions;
that the Congress exert its proper authority in all future matters where the Court has attempted to make ours a government by decrees of five unelected judges. Respectfully submitted,
Board of Directors.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN,
Schenectady, N.Y., February 27, 1974. Senator BIRCH BAYH, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR BAYH: I understand that some of the anti-abortion amendments which have been proposed will be coming before a Sub-committee headed by you, and I am therefore writing to express the concern of the New York State Division Board of AAUW. The New York Division has long supported abortion reform as well as good medical care, available to everyone, including women.
The proposed Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the amendments attached to other legislation which would reverse or hinder the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion are of great concern and presented before the Board of Directors at their February meeting, with the following resolution adopted :
Whereas, the New York State Division, American Association of University Women, has a long-standing record of support of abortion reform; and
Whereas, the New York State Division supported the 1970 New York Abortion Law; and
Whereas, the New York State Division recommended, in accordance with a 1970-71 membership survey, that the New York State Legislature refrain from adopting any restrictive or discriminatory amendments to the 1970 Abortion Law; therefore, be it
Resolved, That this New York State Board of AAUW recommend to our representatives in the New York State Legislature and the U.S. Congress that no restrictive amendments to the U.S. Constitution or to any other federal legislation be adopted which would subvert the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding abortion.
Our membership of almost 10,000 women firmly supported the New York Abortion Law of 1970 and voiced disapproval of restrictions or discriminatory amendments which would reduce the availability of abortions or deny this medical care to the indigent.
It would seem that the law as it now stands is a proper one for a pluralistic society. It permits, but does not compel, a woman to have a medically-safe abortion with the decision made according to her own convictions and circumstances. It respects all religious convictions, but does not set one above another ...
this is of paramount importance to our society. We, therefore, urge that your committee reject any measures to reverse or block the intent of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding abortion. Very truly yours,
MARJORIE KAGAY, Chairman, NYSD Legislative Committee.
MEN'S RIGHTS ASSOCIATION,
St. Paul, Minn,
POSITION ON ABORTION The Men's Rights Ass'n leaves conclusions on the legality or morality of abortion to its members. However, we firmly support the right of men to equality of decision with women in matters of abortion. Our stand rests on both biological an constitutional grounds.
Biologically, we know that abstention from sexual activity prevents pregnancy. No sex, no fetus. No method of birth control is 100 percent effective when there is sexual intercourse between fertile persons. Women after puberty and before menopause produce one or more eggs every month. If unfertilized, the menstrual cycle continues. If fertilized, menstruation is prevented, and the development of the individual begins. Without sperm, no babies would be born,
The fetus never is part of the woman; its tissues never mingle with hers. She simply provides the proper aqueous enviornment for the development of the individual. That individual's genetic make-up is determined equally by the father and the mother.
The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution says the purpose of the Constitution is to secure the blessings of liberty "for us and our posterity.” Everyone has a right to produce children, men as well as women. To leave the decision on abortion to women is to deny all men their constitutional right. If the decision stands, the right of a man to preserve the life of his offspring is subservient to the whim of a woman. This is an outrageous and intolerable blow at the most fundamental human right.
Taken from the Appendix of the author's
NEW YORK, NY 10019
EMILY C MOORE
Some of the issues are basic, having to do with whether abortion should be permissible and legal under any circumstances; others are more specific, dealing with particular aspects of proposed legislation such as permissible indications, limitations to hospital facilities, etc.; others concern the anticipated difficullies in implementing a law involving moderate or dras
tic changes. The reader can easily distinguish these three categories in the condensed argumentation below. The author wishes to draw the reader's allenlion to the format of the following presentation. The discussion on the left paraphrases the issue as presented by the party raising it: the discussion on the right paraphrases the opposing view.
Proponents of liberalization [ Life begins at the moment of conception; the 1. Life began cons ago: the question is when does a
felus has a right to lise; abortion is murder human person begin-some say at conception, ("lynching in the womb").
some at nidation, some at quickening, some at viability, some at birth, some at a later date; the assignment of personhood is arbitrary and dir. sers among faiths. If abortion were considered by socicly to be murder. There would be sumc .30 million women behind bars. Il ferlilied ons were considered persons, we would require registration and burial of all spontaneously aborieu fetuses (including many expelled with lale men. strual flow). A hydatidiform mole starts as a fertilized egg, ends as a mass of cells, and could in no way be described as a person. A blueprint is not a house, an acorn is not an oak, DNA is
not a person. 2. It is just one step from abortion to euthanasia; 2. Abortion and euthanasia are separate issues legal abortion reflects and encourages declining
(though determining the end of the human permorality and loss of reverence for the sanctity
son is as difficult a question as determining the of life.
start); we sel speed limits at 60 MPH and do not necessarily then move them to 70 MPH (one step does not necessarily lead to another); rever. ence for life includes concern for the quality of children born and consideration for the rights
and well-being of women unwillingly pregnant. 3. Promiscuity will be encouraged by legal abortion; 3. Fear of pregnancy is notoriously inefficient
sexual misbehavior should be punished (“she had as a deterrent 10 sexual behavior. Why should her fun, now let her pay")
the woman be punished and not the man? Why should an innocent child also be punished? Does the punishment fil the crime?
BA., 1959 Cornell University, MA., 1966 Hunter College; M.S. 1968 Columbia University, Staff Associate, Demographic Division, The Population Council, City of New York.