Choosing Between ‘Life' and ‘Choice' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Choosing Between ‘Life' and ‘Choice'

Since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in this country 32 years ago on Jan. 22, 1973, there has been a civil war between those who agree with the ruling and those who don't. Now abortion-rights groups are finding new ways to combat the many approaches that anti-abortion groups have used to erode abortion rights in recent years, especially in southern states like Mississippi where support of the right hasn't been as loud.

One way that abortion opponents have waged their battles is through the license plates on their cars—convincing some states to offer residents a "Choose Life" plate. The U.S. Supreme Court this month supported the decision in a South Carolina court—by declining to hear an appeal—that such plates are unconstitutional because abortion-rights groups are not offered a license plate by the state government on which to express their views.

In 2002 the Mississippi Legislature passed a bill that seems to allow for equal time—it declared that any political or social group with enough backing could create a license plate for their cause. Section 27-19-44 of the Mississippi Code says, "The organization or other entity for which the Legislature authorized the distinctive license tag or plate must submit proof that at least 100 of such tags will be purchased." This proof has to be presented to the State Tax Commission.

Barbara Beavers, director of the Center for Pregnancy Choices, an anti-abortion group, said the Mississippi "Choose Life" plate is vital. "I would love to see it on every car in the state," she said. Beaver says abortion-rights groups have not been denied the opportunity to have their own plate. "If they want a plate then they should go through the same process we did," she said. "It took a lot of work to get that plate."

The ruling in South Carolina ultimately means that the state has to either eliminate the plates or offer abortion-rights advocacy groups the same opportunity. Susan Hill, president of Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only remaining abortion clinic in the state, says that her group, though not involved in any legal action on this issue, thinks that it is only fair to have a "pro-choice" plate as well.

Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union says, however, that this is not about abortion-rights advocates gaining a license plate. "The problem with the legislation is that if anyone with enough people designed a license plate, they will be able to have one," Lambright said. "So should people who only believe in abortion in the case of rape get a tag, too?"

The state of Mississippi has placed many restrictions on the abortion procedure—even though it was legalized in 1973. This state requires parental consent and a 24-hour waiting period before the procedure can be performed. The most recent legislation attempts to constrict abortions, making it illegal for a woman to have an abortion in a clinic during the second trimester. Before this law, a woman could get an abortion in the state until up to 16 weeks into her pregnancy. Now she will only have 12 weeks.

Hill says this is just another way that "pro-life" groups and legislators have found to make abortions more difficult in this state. "Basically we filed a lawsuit because the state passed a law that limited the number of weeks a woman could have an abortion from 16 weeks to 12 weeks unless the procedure is performed in a hospital or a surgi-center," she said. The problem with this is, in Mississippi, physicians are by law not required to perform an abortion if it will interfere with his or her beliefs."

Hill says that a law that puts a stricter time limit on abortions will do more harm than good to those women who choose to have an abortion. For women who are past this 12-week period, it means they will have to travel out of state to have the procedure done. All of the state's restrictions on abortion are pretty burdensome."

Those opposed to abortion, on the other hand, could not be more happy about the laws. Beavers says that she thinks it is a wonderful law because "it cuts down on the pain the baby feels and health issues for the women." She added, "I am very proud of our legislators because they are doing what they can to restrict abortions in this state."

Lambright says this law is unjust for low-income women especially because they might need time to save up for an abortion. She said, "A woman who does not have a lot of money might have to save for an abortion, and if she is in her second trimester she will not be able to have the procedure."

Her main concerns, though, are whether anti-abortion groups are giving women accurate information—the JFP reported last year that the state is misleading women about an abortion-cancer link—and how the state Legislature constantly restricts abortion.

"Basically, the government needs to stay out of women's bedrooms," she said.

This year was the first time in three years that the state Legislature, and the sitting governor, have not condoned the placement of small crosses on the Capitol lawn to represent "unborn" victims of abortion. The crosses were not placed this year to protest the anniversary of the Roe ruling.

Previous Comments

ID
64448
Comment

just to bump this up, I see in the clarion there's a new bill to restrict teens from birth control. oh please , let young women have control of what's so important! you old men, what do you know.. sorry. (and I think those crosses were eventually placed somewhere if not at the capitol. somewhere nearby. ?) and, theVPost editor Sunday edition I think, argued with Newsweek Quindlen's article, saying oh it's all fine here in Ms., etc. (cannot sent the url , the Post doesn't post. ha.)

Author
sunshine
Date
2005-02-08T17:30:14-06:00
ID
64449
Comment

whether prochoice or prolife we should all be aware(and tell our daughters at an appropriate age)that these clinic abortions are SURGICAL PROCEDURES done with an ANESTHETIC AGENT. its not like getting a haircut,or having a tooth pulled. having over a decade of caring for women(and girls)having abortions,or having had their abortion elsewhere,i can tell you that there is no guarantee of a complication-free procedure.infection can happen-and left untreated can lead to bleeding disorders,sterility(from having to have the uterus removed SURGICALLY-another risk),and even DEATH! the same thing can happen if all products of conception are not evacuated. also,perforations of the uterus leading to hemorrhage can go undetected after the procedure ,and this is NOT GOOD!and THIS is WHY we need regulations,counselling, and standards of care for EVERYONE,especially young girls who dont have the knowledge or experience to make informed choices.these risks are a very important part of the whole issue but never seem to be included in the debate.why, i wonder?

Author
KWHIT
Date
2005-02-10T11:41:18-06:00
ID
64450
Comment

oh yeah, something else- that's why they are so expensive! these dr's have to pay their malpractice insurance premiums with BLOOD (or their 1st-born child!)and the procedures being performed at these clinics are "elective",not indicated,so they are really laying their head on the chopping block if something happens. "electing" to have an abortion that is not indicated can be equated with "electing" to have a little liposuction or a face lift. you have to be able to PAY for it AND for all the things that could happen as a result of it.

Author
KWHIT
Date
2005-02-10T11:55:24-06:00

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