Abortion ruling stirs strong emotions

By Galvin Kennedy

A July 3 Supreme Court ruling, which has given state legislatures the power to restrict state funded abortions, has stirred up emotions in every corner of the issue.

The court ruled on a Missouri case that states may refuse to allow tax dollars and public facilities to be used for abortions and may require doctors to determine through various tests whether a fetus at least 20 weeks old is capable of surviving outside the womb.

“From my perspective,” said Father Steven Potter from the Newman Center, “the issue won’t be effectively dealt with until abortion is outlawed. But the movement of the court toward allowing the states to begin the process of curtailing the availability of abortions is a step in the right direction,” Potter said.

“The Catholic Conference of Illinois, which is the overarching organizational structure for the six Catholic dioceses in Illinois, constantly brings the pro-life issue to the forefront of the legislatures, and I am supportive of their actions,” said Potter, adding he has written several letters to state and federal congressional leaders.

Rosemary Lane, director of NIU’s health center, said the abortion ruling has had no impact on NIU.

In fiscal year 1989, 26 NIU students had abortions which were paid for by student insurance, Lane said.

This compares to 377 Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, students who tested positive in pregnancy tests. However, according to Jamie Shaw, an SIU graduate student who is doing her thesis on pregnancy counseling, the university does not provide student insurance to cover abortions.

Lane said the court ruling probably will not affect NIU insurance even though NIU is a state institution because the insurance company is private.

As the law stands now, the health center is required to give students general information regarding abortions, Lane said.

On the other hand, if Illinois were to adopt the Missouri law, the health center would not be able to provide information to students seeking guidance, Lane said, adding that “they (students) could get the information from other sources anyway.”

The court’s ruling will be a main issue in Illinois campaigns for governor and the legislature next year, with the first test of its impact in the March primaries.

Pat Palmer, director of Northern Illinois Crisis Pregnancy Center, said, “In the past, Illinois legislatures have been fairly conservative on the books. Now that the door is open, we might see some restrictions on certain aspects of the Roe vs. Wade case.”