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Daily Breakthrough 1977-11-19
Page 29
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Daily Breakthrough 1977-11-19 - Page 29. November 19, 1977. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. August 28, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6372/show/6363.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(November 19, 1977). Daily Breakthrough 1977-11-19 - Page 29. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6372/show/6363

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Daily Breakthrough 1977-11-19 - Page 29, November 19, 1977, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed August 28, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6372/show/6363.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Daily Breakthrough 1977-11-19
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date November 19, 1977
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 37 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332726~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 29
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_534bb.jpg
Transcript IIwidely circulated feminist poster reproduces a scarifying police photograph: a woman, dead of a botched illegal abortion, lies naked and bloody in an empty room. For a time it seemed that that image was fading, that it might actually pass into history. Now, abruptly, it is as vivid as ever. On June 20, 1977, sLx white male Supreme Court justices decided that Connecticut and Pennsylvania need not pay for elective abortions with state Medicaid funds and that the city of St. Louis need not provide such operations in its public hospitals. The state still owns our bodies—unless we can afford ransom. It is a bitter shock to wake up and find yourself losing a battle you thought you had largely won—especially D C|| when you had fought so by blien WllllS hard and won so much in such a short time. In 1969, when feminists began making militant public demands for repeal of the abortion laws, abortion was illegal, except in special circumstances, in every state. Legislative debate on "abortion reform" was mainly confined to the issue of whether women who were sick or crazy or had been raped by their fathers deserved to be excused from forced child- bearing. By 1970 the political climate had changed drastically. New York, which had resisted the most minimal "reforms," passed the most liberal law in the country: it permitted abortion for any reason during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. In 1973—after three more years of feminist demonstrations, speakouts, lobbying campaigns and lawsuits—the United States Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting abortion during the first six months of pregnancy violated women's constitutional right to privacy. The Supreme Court's decision was by no means a total victory. It did not invalidate all abortion laws, and it specifically rejected the feminist contention that a woman has an absolute right to decide whether or not to bear a child. Anti- abortionists quickly moved to test the limits of the decision by pushing for a whole new set of abortion statutes requiring a husband's or parent's consent, forbidding the use of public funds for abortions, permitting hospitals and medical personnel to refuse on moral grounds to provide or perform them and so on. Some states have passed blatantly unconstitutional laws (like Louisiana's law making abortion a capital crime). In other communities public officials have simply ignored the decision, and social and political pressure has ensured that abortion remains unavailable, or available only at an exorbitant price. For all too many women who cannot afford to go to a private doctor or travel to a liberal state, the right to safe, legal abortion has never been more than theoretical. Still, the decision led to what proved a disastrous complacency. Once middle- class women could get abortions, feminists found it difficult to generate the energy needed to keep pressing their original demand-repeal of all abortion laws. It was even harder to maintain a sense of urgency about defending what had been won. The conservative resistance-including the campaign, instigated and largely financed by the Catholic Church, to pass an anti- abortion constitutional amendment—seemed a futile rear-guard action. Legal abortion was popular; polls showed that a majority of people supported it (including a substantial percentage of Catholics). If many women concluded that the struggle was over, others forgot—or never knew—that there had even been a struggle. "I only had a vague idea that there was a pro-abortion movement," a woman I know said recently. "I just knew that at one point abortion was illegal, and then it wasn't." Last year Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which cut off federal Medicaid funds for abortion except to save the woman's life. Opponents of the amendment filed suit, and Federal District Judge John F. Dooling issued an injunction staying its enforcement. Defenders of abortion rights were also contesting the Connecticut, Pennsylvania and St. Louis regulations. Feminists and civil libertarians assumed that the Supreme Court would declare all these restrictions unconstitutional. But another major political shift was taking place. Since Nixon's 1972 landslide, the government's right ward drift had been gaining alarming momentum. Widespread unemployment and massive cutbacks in social- welfare spending were having a particularly severe impact on women and minorities. At the same time, the fundamentalist right was mounting its defense of the patriarchal family against abortion, homosexuality and the Equal Rights Amendment. Jimmy Carter was continuing Nixon- Ford's economic policies while encouraging the sexual backlash with his opposition to abortion, his emphasis on traditional family virtues and his unctuous Christian piety. In the face of this dual reactionary assault, the women's movement—like the black movement and the left generally —was in retreat. The ERA, a broadly popular (and scarcely radical) measure, was in deep trouble; the anti-abortion movement was looking less and less like a futile rear guard. Given this ominous atmosphere and the basic conservatism of the Nixon Court, the June 20 rulings should have been no surprise. And so, in 1977, for women without money it is 1969 again. The fact that the state is forbidden to interfere directly with a woman's right to end her pregnancy does not, in the Supreme Court's view, invalidate state policies that effectively . prevent many women from exercising that right. After June 20, the Court directed Judge Dooling to reconsider his injunction against the Hyde Amendment. In light of the Court's new rulings, Dooling lifted the injunction, ensuring that until October 1, the end of the fiscal year (the Amendment was part of an annual appropriations bill), poor women would not be able to get abortions except in states like New York, where the state government had agreed (for the time being) to make up the difference. The House and Senate have passed two versions of a new bill outlawing federal Medicaid funds for virtually all abortions; at the time this article went to press, reconciliation of the bills and final passage were expected shortly. It is unlikely that many states will follow New York's example. The trend is exactly the opposite; over 20 states have already passed laws authorizing a cutoff of state funds for abortions. The anti-abortion lobby can be expected -to press for similar bans in every state. We are facing a social crisis. Last year 300,000 legal abortions—one-third of the total-were financed by Medicaid; one-third of the recipients of Medicaid abortions were teenagers. The cutoffs will affect not only the indigent but all women who cannot manage on short notice to scrape up the $150 to $300 fee for an early abortion (late abortions are of course much more expensive). Economically dependent women who for whatever reason cannot tell parents or husbands they need an abortion are particularly vulnerable. PAGE 28 NOVEMBER 19, 1977 DAILY BREAKTHROUGH