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Court reaffirmed Roe v. Wade. Statutes struck down in the court’s decision included requirements that a physician inform abortion patients that “human life begins at conception”; that doctors read patients a graphic description of the fetus and of the abortion procedure prior to obtaining consent; and that patients wait 24 hours between signing consent forms and obtaining abortions. The arguments O’Connor set out in her dissent lay the groundwork for a possible future opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Voting with her were justices Rehnquist and White, who cast the only dissenting votes in 1973. Two more votes would mean an anti-choice majority and the next president very likely will make at least two more court appointments, since four of the current justices are in their mid-seventies. The 1984 Presidential election, then, may determine whether abortion continues to be legal in this country. Of the eight top Democratic Party candidates, only Ruben Askew is opposed to the right to abortion. However, pro-choice groups are concerned that the vicepresidential nominee also be an advocate of choice. They also emphasize the importance of working for strong prochoice planks in party platforms including the Republican platform, though that venture may prove to be frustrating. Other races, too, need attention: North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms and Iowa’s Roger Jepsen, two of the Senate’s strongest opponents of choice, are up for re-election this year. In Texas, electing a pro-choice replacement for John Tower is a top priority not to gain new support but to maintain the status quo. Tower consistently voted pro-choice, though he tried to avoid the pro-choice label. He characterized himself as favoring a “states’-rights prerogative,” believing “that the federal government should [not] involve itself in questions of appropriate or necessary medical treatment.” Yet he voted against the Hatch Amendment, which would have dismissed Roe v. Wade and left either the states or Congress to settle the question of legality. Tower’s voting record may have caused problems had he decided to run again this year; antichoice Republicans have been gaining strength in the Texas party hierarchy. According to the Houston Chronicle, Wayne J. Thorburn, who resigned last year as executive director of the Texas Republican Party, estimated that 20% or more of the party’s 64-member executive committee consider the fight against abortion as the state’s top political issue. Of the three major Republican Party candidates for Tower’s seat, Paul and Gramm are anti-choice; Mossbacher has stated that he would oppose a Constitutional amendment restricting abortion rights. Democrats Doggett, Hance, and Krueger all have pro-choice voting records. /N THIS REGARD, no election is unimportant. The TARAL staff says it would like pro-choice voters to consider the issue in every ‘state and local election. To that end, much of their work since 1980 has centered on grassroots organizing. “We’ve been on a political education binge,” notes Fridrich, “trying to educate the prochoice majority we know to be out there. They encourage pro-choice voters to question all candidates about their views and to let elected officials know that reproductive choice is a priority concern. State legislators and even local government officials have power to support or restrict access to abortion. In Houston, for example, county commissioners voted to cut off abortion funds for poor patients at Jeff Davis Hospital; hospital board members opposed the move but The 1984 Presidential election, then, may determine whether abortion continues to be legal in this country. were forced to comply. One of the commissioners instrumental in securing the cutoff, however, is not running for re-election this year, and pro-choice supporters are hoping for an opportunity to restore the funds. In the legislature, Fridrich reports, TARAL lacks majority support in both the House and Senate, although its staff has worked effectively with key committee members to avert restrictive legislation. TFPA also has worked to help avoid cuts in Title XX family planning funds; Representative unsuccessfully for a one-third cut in the funds, almost precisely the amount usually allocated to Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the state. The issue of access, however, reaches beyond electoral politics. Access involves the availability of abortion services in local communities, the ability to obtain those services without harassment but, most important, it involves affordability. The Hyde Amendment and later Congressional actions severely restricted abortion services for lowincome women. Fourteen states still provide unrestricted abortion funding for Medicaid-eligible women, but Texas is not one of them. In Texas, poor women seeking a legal abortion may opt to go to a local charity hospital \(if one exists that provides funds for abortion who offer reduced fees, or to seek financial help through private funds or a Planned Parenthood loan fund. Planned Parenthood’s abortion assistance has made it a target of anti-choice groups in a number of communities. Such services are supported through private contributions, often including funds from United Way. Anti-choice groups have pressured many local United Way officials to drop their support for the clinics. According to TFPA, this pressure had led in many cases to “strained relationships” between the two agencies; some clinics, failing to get increased United Way allocations yet hindered by United Way restrictions against independent fund raising, have withdrawn from United Way. In El Paso, however, the two agencies reached a compromise in which Planned Parenthood receives only earmarked contributions \(United Way donors may designate a specific recipisupport has increased steadily ever since. The only private fund of which TARAL is aware that supports abortion services for low-income women in Texas is the Rosie Jimenez Fund, named for a McAllen woman who died from an illegal abortion in 1977. The fund helps Medicaid-eligible women by reimbursing abortion providers for a portion of their costs. Neither the Jimenez Fund nor the Planned Parenthood loan funds, however, has the resources to fill the gap left by Congress: nationwide, in the first year after the Hyde Amendment took effect, federally-funded abortions dropped by 99% , from 600,000 to 6,000. Restoring full Medicaid funding for abortion is also a priority for TARAL, its national affiliates, and the many other groups active in support of choice. They hope the results of the 1984 elections will enable them to focus on that task, rather than struggling against new attacks from an entrenched, anti-choice administration. They would like, then, to be finished with the issue altogether. “After a while, you begin to wonder,” says Romberg, “when can we stop? When can we move on to other problems?” She has been working to maintain reproductive rights since 1973; she considers the issue to be even more basic and more important to women than passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Like her associates at TARAL, she plans to stay involved as long as necessary. Like it or not, she concludes, “I think we’re going to have to be vigilant for a long time.” 8 FEBRUARY 24, 1984