The Supreme Court upheld the first federal ban on abortion to date last Wednesday, April 18. This new legislation bans a certain second trimester abortion: intact dilation and extraction in which a doctor instigates an early labor, delivers the fetus whole and then punctures or crushes the fetus’ skull.
According to New Scientist Magazine, only 2,200 of the 1.3 million abortions performed in the United States use this method, but pro-choice activists see it as a slippery slope. They beleive that if there is a federal ban on one type of abortion, it will be easier to ban other decisions until abortion is completely illegal.
The Mills community feels passionately about this issue. Four separate students posted in student-news on April 18 about the ban. Some posts that day and in the days following advertised the anti-ban rally held in the San Francisco Civic Center April 19.
“Rain or shine,” said senior Katrina Wardell’s post.
Senior Mailee Wang created a post with the subject: “Today is a very sad day for women – Court Upholds Federal Abortion Ban.”
Wang quoted from a statement issued by Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
“This case is about more than abortion,” said Keenan. “This decision means the Court is willing to partner with the Bush administration and uphold laws that interfere with personal decisions that should be left up to a woman and her family.”
The Mills chapter of Choice USA has been working closely with NARAL, the national Choice USA and the Northern California Planned Parenthood to help spread awareness and understanding of what exactly the ban entails and how the ban will affect women.
“When this bill was first passed, hardly anyone knew anything about it or what exactly it meant,” said Daniella Matthews-Trigg, the Mills Choice USA vice-president. “The bill is purposefully confusing, and it’s important for people to know what it really means.”
Right after the Supreme Court’s decision was announced, Mills Choice USA worked hard to get as many people notified that the anti-ban rally in was being held in San Francisco.
Flyers were put up all over campus, notices put on everyone’s door, and an invitation went up on Facebook, a popular college social-networking site. Over 200 people were invited and asked to invite anyone else they could think of.
Freshwoman Paisley Moore wrote on the rally’s page on Facebook. She couldn’t go but she said, “Know that this issue has my full support and that I do care so much about what’s happening right now!”
Rachel Dorney, also a freshwoman, went to the rally.
“It was an emergency rally, and I was surprised at the number of people who came,” she said. “Everyone there was really pissed off by this ban and I just knew that they would all be working to get something done about it in the future. We were connected. Doctors were there, all sorts of people. It was amazing.”
Until the end of the semester, the Mills Choice USA will be working to get support on campus for the new Freedom of Choice Act, created in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. The FOCA will codify Roe v. Wade and guarantee the right to choose for future generations of women, according to the NARAL Web site.
“This act, if passed, would put exceptions for women’s health and safety in the current ban,” said Matthews-Trigg.
This would actually be an improvement on the original protections of Roe v. Wade.
“Most people don’t know this,” said Mills history professor Bill Issle during an impromptu lecture on abortion law history, “but the Roe v. Wade ruling only included first trimester abortions.
All other types are left to the discretion of the state. Under this definition, second trimester abortions are not morally or federally protected.”
“Although this legislation has discouraged many pro-choice people,” said Dorney, sounding positive, “it’s important to just keep pushing for what’s right, no matter how little the administration seems to care.”