« 上一頁繼續 »
Bleich, Rabbi J. David, Yorkville Synagogue, Congregation. B'nai
State of Massachusetts, statement.
Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, letter dated April 18, 1974,
to Hon. Birch Bayh...
monweal, September 21, 1973-
Derwinski, Hon. Edward J., a Representative in Congress from the
"Doctors Won't Do Abortions Under Proposed Law," from the
Jerusalem Post, March 2, 1976..
State of Missouri, statement.
by Fred E. Mecklenburg--
the Medical Tribune, February 5, 1975.
worthy, A. S. Moolgaoker, and J. J. Walsh (Division of Obstetrics
and Gynecology, United Oxford Hospitals).
tional, letter dated March 30, 1976, to Hon. Don Edwards.
Mecklenburg, Marjory, president, American Citizens Concerned
for Life, Inc., statement..
Ob-Gyn Collected Letters of the International Correspondence
Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, November 1, 1974.--
Family Practice News, September 15, 1974--
Snyder, Hon. Gene, a Representative in Congress from the State of
from the State of Missouri, statement..
Arlington, Va., statement..
for the Study of Abortion, Inc.--
Medical Journal, February 10, 1973.
State of Pennsylvania, statement...
Erickson (reprinted from the Brooklyn Law Review).
STATEMENT OF HON. BELLA S. ABZUG, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE
STATE OF NEW YORK * Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: Once again the Congress is considering proposals to restrict women's right to choose abortion, and I feel compelled to protest. The Supreme Court's decisive ruling in Roe v. Wade placed the decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy where it rightly belongs : Into the hands of the woman and her doctor. Together their decision may reflect the physical and emotional needs, and the religious and moral values of the individual concerned. More than 3 years have passed since this historic ruling, during which time, access to early abortion has been largely unrestricted. However, abortion remains a volative public issue.
There is a highly emotional and well organized campaign underway to undermine that decision. A variety of amendments to the constitution have been introduced in Congress that would legislate either a vague and indeterminable definition of “life," prohibit a denial of due process or equal protection to a fetus, or throw the decision on freedom of choice into the laps of the 50 states.
Such amendments, by changing the constitution, would circumvent the supreme court's decision. They would violate the spirit and the language of the constitution, and its very basic principles of tolerance and individual freedom.
The supreme court based its 1973 decision upon women's fundamental right to privacy which has evolved through 200 years of judicial history. Recognizing improvements in medical procedures which make it safer to undergo early abortion than childbirth, the court ruled that the state-in the interest of preserving the health of its citizens—must not restrict women's freedom to choose abortion.
I believe this decision was proper. The enactment of any legislation pending before this committee would be a serious encroachment upon the fundamental civil rights of every American woman of child bearing age.
I. THE NEW YORK EXPERIENCE We in New York State have seen the dramatic health benefits of legalized abortion. Since 1970, when first trimester abortion became legal in New York, infant and maternal mortality rates have declined sharply and there have been significant decreases in the number of women hospitalized due to mishandled abortions.
The rate of medical complications from abortion increases considerably after the first trimester—from an average rate of 6 percent, to 20–25 percent during the second trimester. But first trimester abortions are readily available only when abortion is legal. Preliminary figures from 1973 prove that due to legalized abortion across the country, the incidence of second trimester abortion has decreased. In 1973, approximately 83 percent of abortions were performed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy whereas in 1970 that number had been 73.8 percent. Thus legalization of abortion has made it safer for women to undergo abortion. Moreover, there is less risk to women's health when follow-up medical supervision is available. When abortion must be covertly procured in disregard of restrictive laws, such follow-up medical supervision is rarely possible.
There is a great deal of statistical evidence which proves that the decreased mortality rates for pregnant women which we have seen in the past few years are a result of legalizing abortion. New York statistics provide a good example of this. In 1969 in N.Y.C., there were 24 abortion-associated deaths per 10,000 live births. In 1972 that figure was halved to 12 deaths per 10,000 live births. In 1974 abortion-related deaths in New York were reduced to the astonishingly low number of one per 10,000 live births. Figures also show that in the first year in which early abortion was legal the number of deaths from abortion declined all across the country. There is no doubt that legalization of abortion played a large part in these striking improvements.
In the year prior to the legalization of abortion in New York, municipal hospi. tals admitted 6,524 women for incomplete abortions (both spontaneous and illegally induced) whereas in 1973 that number had dropped to 3,253. These statis
tics and those compiled by the 50 states since 1973 show that dramatic improve ments in maternal health cannot be overstated. Concern for the lives and health of millions of women throughout the nation who may be faced with an unwanted pregnancy is the most compelling testimony for legalized abortion.
II. BENEFITS OF LEGALIZED ABORTION FOR THE POOR The medial benefits of a liberal abortion law are felt most profoundly among: the poor. It is poor women of all races and ages who become the principle victims of unsafe abortions when abortion is not legal. · Prior to 1973, it was estimated that more than 1 million out-of-hospital abortions were performed each year, not more than one-third by physicians. The majority were performed by non-professional abortionists, often in dirty, and hazardous surroundings. Poor women, who had limited access to contraceptive. services, were the principle victims of such unsafe abortions. In contrast, wealthy women were often able to obtain "therapeutic” abortions regardless of the restrictiveness of their state law, or could travel to a state which had legalized abortion.
Legal proscriptions against abortion do not significantly reduce the number of abortions performed. Rather, where abortion is outlawed, only the poor are denied acceşs to the limited amount of safe abortion facilities that exist. In. New York City changes in the racial and ethnic composition of those who obtain abortions illustrate this inequity.
Figures on the incidence of abortions in New York City prior to legalization reveal that considerably less abortions were performed on minority women than on white women. In comparison, when abortion became legal, the number of such abortions per 1,000 live births among minorities increased dramatically.
A recent report by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., shows. that subsequent to legalization a similar change occurred. The following is a breakdown of abortion rates by race, among New York City residents. July 1970 to December 1970 (the first six months in which abortion was legal).
Whites: 48 percent of legal abortions, nonwhites : 40.9 percent of legal abortions, Puerto Ricans: 9.3 percent of legal abortions.
1974-whites : 37.4 percent of legal abortions, nonwhites : 48.6 percent of legal abortions, Puerto Ricans: 9.3 percent of legal abortions.
National figures also show that as a result of nationwide legalization, minority women had proportionally greater access to abortion. Blacks and other minority women had obtained only 19 percent of the total legal abortions in 1971. Then in 1973 minority, women were able to obtain 29 percent of the legal abortions performed whereas white women comprised 67 percent of the total women obtaining abortions. Thus it seems that of the small number of legal therapeutic abortions which were performed prior to legalization, access for minority women was severely limited.
Since Roe v. Wade, a number of measures have been adopted by Congress or in spectific States that limit access to abortion. These efforts, often attached as riders to seemingly nonrelated bills, narrow the reach of the Supreme Court's. ruling. Such legislation enacted includes:
1. A "conscience clause" in the Health Programs Extension Act of 1973;
2. A fetal research ban in the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 1973;
3. A limited fetal research ban in the National Research Awards and Protection of Human Subjects Act; and
4. A provision in the Legal Services Corporation Act prohibiting legal service. attorneys from handling abortion-related cases.
Such restrictive legislation, particularly so-called "conscience clauses" and the legal services ban, harm most severely those who have little recourse to other means of obtaining an abortion. The conscience clause allows individual hospitals to refuse to perform abortions because of religious or moral beliefs without losing Federal funds. While religious freedom must not be denied to anyone, in localities that have limited medical facilites (e.g., rural areas with only one public hospital) the right to abortion can thus be effectively denied to the poor, since wealthy women under comparable circumstances can afford to go elsewhere to obtain an abortion.
How can a right to abortion be operative if those licensed to perform abortions are permitted to arbitrarily withhold their services from those who need!