NOW Conference Heats up Abortion Debate
- Friday, July 11, 2003
NOW's annual conference, running through the weekend, will revolve around a political blueprint for the group's 500 chapters and 600,000 members nationwide. The conference will focus on how to recruit women to run for political office and educate women on the issues of domestic violence, economic justice, lesbian rights and many others. But it is NOW's position as one of the nation's most ardent abortion rights advocates that creates the most controversy.
"The government has no business in that decision," said Olga Vives, vice president of NOW's Illinois chapter. "It is a decision that a woman has to make based on her right to privacy, whether or not she wants to be a mother. There are circumstances in which a woman can't allow a pregnancy to go forward and she should have the option to make that painful decision. No government has any jurisdiction over that."
The right to privacy, Vives said, has been established in the Constitution, and was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion and recently in the Lawrence et al v. Texas ruling that overturned Texas' sodomy law.
But Vives warned that a woman's legal right to have an abortion could be overturned in the future, should one or two of the current Supreme Court justices retire and President Bush nominate their replacements.
"It is a very strong possibility, under the political climate that we live in today," Vives said. "We have in the White House an anti-abortion, anti-contraceptive president."
Randall Terry, president of the pro-life Society for Truth and Justice, met with reporters at the northern Virginia hotel that is hosting the NOW annual conference - promising to expose what he called the "lies" being distributed by NOW.
Terry said he has sent out 80,000 letters denouncing the NOW conference and will try, along with other pro-life groups, to counter the march being planned by NOW in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 2004.
While Vives said the goal of the march will be to "send a clear message to this administration, Congress and the Supreme Court that we will not go back to the day when women could not have safe and legal abortions," Terry promised a pro-life counter-demonstration called "The Truth About Lies."
Pro-lifers will hold hundreds of signs along the NOW parade route, Terry said, "showing the miracle of life from conception until birth and then showing abortion techniques." The Society for Truth and Justice also plans to have a section of women dressed in black, all of whom have had abortions and now recognize that abortion is a crime against women and babies, Terry said.
"When we show up in April, we are going to steal [NOW's] media thunder in a big way. Their parade of lies is going to be our outpost for truth," Terry said.
Terry said he also wants to reach as many young people as possible. "Before kids get politically hardened they still think with their feelings and if you show a 12-year-old a picture of an 8-week baby in utero, they know it's a baby. They have not been diluted and hardened by the rhetoric of choice."
Abortion should be made illegal, Terry said, because as soon as society "decriminalizes a criminal behavior, it's going to become rampant." Roe v. Wade , he added, will eventually be overturned even if it's 25 years from now. "It is going to be a long, ugly fight, but we will prevail," he said.
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