Activist Defends Abortion Rights in Rutgers Visit

By By U Wire

By U Wire

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.?Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, spoke to an intimate gathering of about 15 Rutgers University students and faculty in the New Jersey Commuter Lounge of the Douglass College Center Wednesday.

“It’s funny, because Kate actually approached us on doing this,” said Neenia Barlatt, program coordinator for the Douglass College Center. From there, the Women’s Defense Coalition and the Women’s Center at Douglass College worked out the logistics of Michelman’s visit.

NARAL’s mission “is to educate individuals to the values and principles of the pro-choice position,” Michelman said. The organization demonstrates its stance on the abortion debate via legal work, lobbying, research and mailing and telephoning voters, among other avenues, she said. It seeks to “protect and defend freedom of choice.”

One of Michelman’s main points in the talk was that “you never hear about the immorality of bringing a child into the world” at an inopportune time.

“As a mom of three daughters and five grandchildren?it’s one of the most important decisions?bringing a child into the world,” she said.

She said when America was first a country, there were no laws forbidding abortion. “It was a way women had to exercise some discretion in their lives,” she said.

It was not until the mid-19th century that laws banning abortion were created, and even then they were enacted based on the belief that abortions were harmful to women’s health, she said. And though legislators promoted and achieved anti-abortion laws, “that didn’t stop women from having abortions. It drove women to back allies?to risk their lives,” Michelman said.

Shortly before the time of Roe v. Wade, “due to the women’s movement?people around the country organized in opposition to the death and the maiming of women” that was caused by illegal abortions.

With Roe v. Wade, and following, Justice Harry Blackmun?who made his decision very much based on a medical model?”more and more carefully illuminated the fact that freedom of choice” was necessary for women, she said.