Abortion is an emotionally packed issue where there is no such
word as compromise. Congress has now succeeded in doing
what it does so well-it has arrived at a compromise on this issue
that pleases neither side.
...None of the funds provided for in this paragraph shall be
used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother
would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term; or except
for such medical procedures necessary for the victims of rape or
incest, when such rape or incest has been reported promptly to
a law enforcement agency or public health service; or except in
those instances where severe and long lasting physical health
damage to the mother would result if the pregnancy were
carried to term when so determined by two physicians.
Nor are payments prohibited for drugs or devices to prevent
implantation of the fertilized ovum, or for medical procedures
necessary for the termination of an ectopic pregnancy.
Pro-abortionists look at the issue in a legal context while
anti-abortionists continue to debate the moral context. The
compromise Congress has reached defines morality only for a
certain class while ignoring the legal definition.
Briefly, the well-known arguments are presented thus: pro-
abortionists see the 1973 Supreme Court ruling allowing legalized elective abortions as a constitutional right. They argue that
however abominable abortions are to some people, the courts
say that they are an acceptable form of health care in our society. To deny funds to a specific class of people is a let them
eat cake attitude. In sum, what good is a constitutional right to
a citizen who has no means of exercising it?
On the other hand, anti-abortionists view conception as the
beginning of human life. Even though a woman's body belongs
to her and she has dominion over it, there is a second life involved. That developing form of life deserves the protection of
our society. Is there not a moral obligation to the fetus child?
To make matters worse, there is the problem of the issue
being decided by the group best organized to get the votes, and
not a majority of the people concerned. When that occurs, the
j)oor will inevitably be the scapegoat.
Unfortunately, a congressional delegate's interest is not how
to decrease the amount of "destroyed fetuses" and "mutilated
mothers," but rather how to avoid losing the support of their
constituency-and the next election^
How many times have we heard newscasters speak of Congress not wanting to vote on an issue in an election year? Congress will delay voting on controversial measures, ignore facts
and statistics, doubletalk the issues and contradict itself in
voting. Henry Hyde, the author of the controversial amendment, said he is deeply committed to the sanctity of human
life, yet he is on record as favoring capital punishment. In an
interview he said, "You can think of capital punishment as an
expression of reverence for human life. Murder, being the ultimate crime, demands the ultimate punishment." Some people
can rationalize anything for a vote and a $57,000 annual salary.
One final bit of irony exists for representatives making a
decision on this issue. Congress has allowed civilian employees
of the federal government and their dependants to receive indirect federal payments for abortion through federally financed
insurance programs or Health Maintenance Organizations. The
Pentagon's policy is that an abortion can be performed for
medical reasons or for reasons involving mental health-a compromise that Congress rejects for poor women.
Further, if the wife or daughter of any member of Congress
needs an abortion, she is covered 100 percent under the federal
employees' health insurance. This results in the taxpayers
paying for abortions for a select few, while either by law or
economic necessity, some of those taxpayers are denied the
Why don't the constituents have the same right to this type
of health care as their elected representatives? If members of
Congress want to show their attitudes toward the Supreme
Court order, they should begin by striking the provision for selective abortions from the health benefits they receive at the
A Health, Education and Welfare task force concluded in
its report on alternatives to abortion "...the literal alternatives
to it are suicide, motherhood, and, some would add, madness."
Congress ignored this report.
Legislation is supposed to deal with questions of equity,
safety, health and due process. Instead, this amendment proposes that abortion is murder for those who cannot pay, but
merely an ordinary medical procedure for those who can pay.
As one political observer noted, "If philosophers and scientists differ, are politicians the ones to decide? Should we encourage a philosophical imperialism in the legislative branch.
The guest editorial is by Maury Forman, a Medicaid examiner
with HEW in Washington, D.C.
writers £& stories
Dixie Lee Hawkins
Victoria Hodge Lightman
interviews Molly Haskell
Mary Ross Rhyne
Marianne Warfield Kostakis
Anita Davidson and
Marianne Warfield Kostakis
Dr. Marrie Richards
Beth Rigel Daugherty
Cowboy's world, cowgirl's place
Rodeo takes women for a ride
Guest editorial: Abortion
Congressional compromise pleases neither side
Linda strikes out
But not without a law suit
Guess who's not running for office
From reverence to rape to . . . reconciliation
New York critic on new wave of the 70's
Artist Jan Beauboeuf illuminates Roberto Molina's
Gallery this month
Rape in the afternoon
The Breakthrough Review
Special book review supplement
How do you like your eggs?
The traditional and the egg centric
Motherhood (second in a series)
The home birth of Nancy Kern's and Jim Asker's baby boy
Know your health history
Or how to be a good patient
Violence begins at home
TRIMS seminar on abused women
Sew on and sew on
"The Greatest Sew on Earth" comes to Houston
Jack hath not Jill in Love's Labour's Lost
"Taffeta phrases, silken terms"
Brandy Beach, Ailene English
Gary Allison Morey, Loretta Standard, Mark Stinson,
Jody Blazek, Deborah Diamond Hicks
Kathy Allen, Maxine Atlas, Deborah Diamond Hicks,
Nancy Landau, Sharman Petri
Carol Bacall, Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff, Cheryl Knott,
Marianne Warfield Kostakis, Victoria Hodge Lightman,
Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff, Marilyn Marshall Jones,
Victoria Hodge Lightman, Kathleen Williamson
Art-Anita Davidson; Books-Marianne Warfield Kostakis;
Film-Victoria Hodge Lightman; Health-Dr. Marrie Richards;
Maxine Atlas, Janice Blue, Sharman Petri
Debbi DuBose, Janis Fowles, Frederick George,
Marilyn Marshall Jones, Nancy Kern, Nancy Landau,
Sharman Petri , Brenda Pope, F. Carter Smith, Totsie
Janice Blue, Gail Brady, Rachel Burke, Gabrielle Cosgriff,
Gary Allison Morey, Loretta Standard, Kathleen Williamson
Gabrielle Cosgriff Victoria Hodge Lightman,
Rachel Burke, Cheryl Knott, Victoria Hodge Lightman,
to mail at second-class postage rates is pending at Houston, Texas.
Page 2 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH March 1978
Houston Breakthrough is published monthly (except for the bi-monthly issues of July-August and December-
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