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Chicago Tribune Op-Ed from Central Illinois Right To Life


Being Pro-Life Is Good Politics

An Op-Ed Article By Judith E. Koehler which first appeared in the Chicago Tribune on September 19, 1997. Reproduced here with permission. Judy Koehler was senior legislative counsel of Americans United for Life when she wrote this article. She is currently a Judge on the Illinois Appellate Court.

CHICAGO--In his column "Illinois politics and abortion" (Op-Ed, Aug. 22), Bruce Dold writes that to take the pro-life position is politically "out of step with public sentiment in favor of abortion rights."

To the contrary, as a result of education, voters are moving away from abortion proponents' rhetoric. Instead, they are expressing their rejection of absolutist pro- abortion demands at the ballot box.

In 1994, a Wirthlin post-election poll showed 51 percent of voters identified themselves as "pro-life," while only 43 percent considered themselves "pro-choice." In 1996, Wirthlin's post- election poll corroborated the 1995 data, reporting that 60 percent of voters favored prohibiting elective abortion in most cases.

Predictably, state legislatures enacted a host of reasonable regulatory measures that affected the abortion industry. Indeed, the "public sentiment" to which Dold referred was nowhere to be found in 1997. The abortion proponents' "victories" in the states were limited to a sprinkling of governors' vetoes. In Alaska, where the governor vetoed two measures--requiring parental consent prior to a minor's abortion and a ban on the partial birth abortion procedure--the legislature overrode both vetoes.

Illinois' Gov. Jim Edgar, in his signature message on Illinois' partial-birth abortion ban, stated he was "generally" in favor of abortion rights, but "concluded that some restrictions were appropriate; for example, parents should be involved in the case of a pregnant minor," a measure he signed in 1995. Further, Edgar said it was "proper, reasonable and humane public policy" to prohibit partial-birth abortion --"a barbaric procedure that is repugnant to me and to almost all Illinoisans." Clearly, the Illinois legislature and the governor shattered the abortion proponents' myth that a fetus is not a life.

This year, Kansas and Florida were added to the growing list of states enacting Woman's- Right-To-Know (WRTK) laws that require abortion doctors to inform women about the medical risks of the abortion procedure. Both Kansas Gov. Bill Graves and Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles are pro-choice. In fact, Graves vetoed similar WRTK legislation in 1996, but switched his position in 1997 after the Kansas legislature passed the legislation unanimously.

A woman has a right to make her own decisions. Legislatures, however, understand that in order for her decision to be informed, she must be aware of the scientific evidence. She has a right to know that the American Cancer Society warns that breast cancer is the leading cancer in women and the leading killer of middle-aged American women. In addition, she has a right to know that an elective procedure--induced abortion--can elevate her risk of developing breast cancer. Many Illinois elected leaders of differing ideology have supported numerous measures that inform women about breast cancer prevention and treatment alternatives. These bipartisan leaders realize that voters understand that to deny women this important preventive health information is both sexist and cruel.

Dold's statement that "Both Ryans recognize that their views on abortion are a political problem in a high-profile state campaign" is not supported by the facts. George and Jim: It's OK to be a pro-life leader!

Judith E. Koehler

Read a review of research on breast cancer risk affected by abortion by Judge Judy Koehler
Abortion And Breast Cancer.


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