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conditions of life for women who are pregnant under unfortunate circumstances, so that they need not resort to the choice of abortion. We invite you and other members of the Judiciary Committee to join with us in developing a suitable amendment to the Constitution to protect the life of the unborn child, and to work with us for its passage by two-thirds of the Senate. We likewise pledge to you our support in passing legislation which will ameliorate the conditions of disadvantaged and vulnerable pregnant women, children who need special care and protection, and families who face exceptional problems in attempting to care for and raise their children. The prolife movement will be the partners and supporters of elected leaders who are working for the protection and enhancement of all human lives, and we will champion legislation to bring about these goals.
Senator Bays. Thank you, Mr. Schaller. I noticed your presence very continuously as we have studied this matter. I do not want to open a Pandora's box but to try to help the committee and particularly the chairman, am I right in saying that you were previously employed by or a part of the National Right to Life Committee ? Mr. SCHALLER. That is right.
Senator Bayh. Would it be helpful in our study to quickly define the differences that exist or would it not be helpful or necessary?
Mr. SCHALLER. I would be glad to make available to you in the near future some program outlines of ACCL and to help you understand the differences in the two organizations.
As you have all here observed there are several organizations in the pro-life movement. Each organization has its own highest priority goals, although we certainly all share the same ultimate goal, and that is to pass an amendment to protect the unborn child and other defenseless human beings.
It is sometimes necessary for a division of effort in order to meet several different kinds of goals or priorities of a short-term nature, so people who are involved with me in ACCL are most concerned right now to concentrate on organizational development across the country. We also are concerned, as this testimony I think illustrates, to develop a legislative program both on a national scale and for the use of State legislators, which will illustrate in very specific terms the concern of the Right to Life movement, not only for protection of the unborn and prohibition of the act of abortion but also concern for the women and the families involved. We support improvements of society which we feel go hand-in-hand with protection.
That is a very short statement.
Senator Bayu. I certainly appreciate those differences and if you care to give us further details, I would be glad to incorporate them in the record or read them for my own edification, whichever you prefer.
Mr. SCHALLER. I would like to stress, though, that I do not believe this can be seen as an event which will weaken or fracture the Right to Life movement. I do not think you can find anything much more cohesive or militant than the Right to Life movement. You may have noticed that.
Senator BAYH. Well, at least the concern described as militancy, , if you care to, certainly is rather evident. I noted that you empha
size the intensity of the feelings here in your closing remarks by suggesting that this is a controversial amendment. I think beyond that it is a very complicated one. I know of no other amendment that involves the scientific, legal, technical ramifications that this one does.
I certainly hope you appreciate that fact as well.
Senator Bayh. The committee is now recessed, subject to the call of the Chair.
[Whereupon, at 1:40 p.m., the subcommittee recessed, to reconvene subject to the call of the Chair.]
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 1974
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:30 a.m., in room 318, Russell Senate Office Building, Senator Birch Bayh (chairman of the subcommittee), presiding:
Present: Senators Bayh (presiding), and Fong.
Also present: J. William Heckman, chief counsel; Abby Brezina, chief clerk; and Teddie Phillips, assistant clerk.
Senator Bayh. We will reconvene our hearings.
Apologies to our witnesses for my tardy arrival. I got nailed before I could get out of the office. I am sorry for the inconvenience it may have caused you.
The first witness today, forming a panel, speaking for the National Abortion Rights Action League, Ms. Pamela Lowry, executive committee member of NARAL and director of constitutional defense project, Massachusetts; Dr. Jane Shoup, a member of the Coalition for Freedom of Choice, the State of Indiana, Mrs. Dorothy Roudebush, chairperson, Committee for Legal Abortions, of Missouri.
I appreciate the fact that you will join us this morning.
STATEMENTS OF MS. PAMELA LOWRY, EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
MEMBER OF NARAL AND DIRECTOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL
I think that was partly because I have been a veteran of testifying before the Massachusetts Legislature and people felt anyone who had braved the Massachusetts Legislature could start out this morning.
Senator Bayh. They say the same thing about Indiana.
Ms. Lowry. I am here representing the National Abortion Rights Action League started in 1968. It is a group that is dedicated to protecting the right of choice for all women in the question of the bearing of children. It is a broad coalition group.
I think too often this issue is set up so people assume there are only two sides and both are extremist. But I think there are a large number of people who, while they are not particularly comfortable with abortion and not proabortion, are very strongly prochoice and therefore represent a very strong middle segment of society.
NARAL used to be called the National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws. Its purpose was to repeal restrictive laws across the country. Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, it seemed very clear that the name should be changed, that it was no longer necessary to assert any effort in legislative arenas concerning the right to choose; but we were very obviously wrong, and I think that is what brings us all here today.
I have been involved in this field, family planning, sex education, abortion, for about a decade. I started with the Planned Parent League of Massachusetts. I can remember on the first official day that I spent there as a staff member, August 1, 1965, the executive director went over and watched the Massachusetts general court defeat a bill which for the first time would have legalized contraception. The legislature voted to make it illegal for a physician to fit a diaphragm or prescribe pills or even give contraceptive advice to a 45-year-old mother. This was the way things were in that time.
Senator BAYH. When was that?
The legislature chose to ignore it, not because they as individuals opposed birth control. We could count the numbers of senators and representatives who voted against birth control whose wives we knew were on the pill. It was very clear this was a vote giving in to a very well organized, very vociferous religious lobby existing in Massachusetts, and known to exist there still.
Planned Parenthood concentrated on changing the contraceptive laws. What was incredible was, at that time, the fact was that it was easier to get a legal abortion in Massachusetts than contraception. Abortion was permitted under a restrictive the life of the mother being imperiled. Yet her doctor could go to jail if he prescribed contraception for her. Our concentration was making birth control legal and available by changing the laws. Gradually change they did. People began to be less embarrassed to come forward to legal legitimate sources of information and medical help, and things began to open up:
I think it was inevitable that with this increased honesty and openness, somebody should eventually feel this might apply one step further.
In 1967 a young woman I think she was about 27 years old-she was married, with one very young child, walked into the Planned Parenthood office and sat down and explained that, for her, it was too late for contraception. They had used a method, it had failed and she was pregnant. She knew that Planned Parenthood dealt with contraception, but could we help her, give her information, tell her where to go to get an abortion? Well, this threw the staff into a bit of quandary. We did some research and within a week that woman was on a plane going to Japan. The only legal options open to her as a physically healthy person were to either go behind the Iron Curtain or to travel half way around the world.
After this incident we informed our medical advisory committee. They all lifted eyebrows, spoke with concern and felt that because this was an issue of great controversy, we should go very, very slowly on it. As soon as they got back to the offices, however, they went through patient registers and started referring people to us for trips to Japan.
I can appreciate the dilemma on the one hand feeling that it was something nice people weren't involved in, and on the other hand, feeling it was a great relief to have an out-for the patient.
So Planned Parenthood, much against its wishes, found itself involved in referring cases for abortion out of the country and around the world.
In 1968 the British changed their laws. They passed a fairly sweeping reform act. It was a very, very liberal law. The cost of going to London for an abortion was half that of going to Japan. For $800 you could get on the plane and go and get legal medical care. This opened up a tremendous—a flood gate of people who felt that they could somehow manage $800 and who came to Planned Parenthood for help and information.
I can remember some of the cases that came in. Most of them are generally a blur, and I am not sure how valuable it is to start talking about individual case histories. I am sure this committee has been hit with everybody's life story. There are a few who stand out. I don't know if you know Boston, but there was one woman from South Boston who came in. She had five children and was married, and she had never been outside the limits of Metropolitan Boston. The farthest she had gone was on the MTA up to Revere Beach. She had a morbid fear of flying. That woman got together her life savings and put her five children in the care of her sister and flew off to London. It was an incredible thing to watch this happen. It was an incredible thing to watch these people come in the door and see how they had to pull their lives together and deal with this situation, and on top of it deal with restrictive laws at home. Even more frustrating, the ones who, when you said $800, sat there in utter silence and bewilderment, with tears in their eyes because there was nothing they could do. These were the people who went back out of that office and started the hunt for classic illegal abortions.
I will be honest. There were some half way decent, half way competent illegal practitioners around at that time. There was a licensed physician who was a surgeon and he worked out of Boston about 10 blocks away from a major Catholic maternity hospital. He charged $650. If you wanted an anesthetic it was an additional $100.
There was a man in Newton who I once saw who was also a licensed physician. He was an alcoholic and he drank during procedures in order to steady his hand; and so it went, down the rung of the people who weren't physicians and so on. It was a terrible kind of thing to witness.
People like me who had to sit and counsel them, and people across the country who came in contact with situations like this really felt moved to do something. You either had to get out of it completely and isolate yourself from the reality or do something to change it. This is how groups like NAARL got started with men and women