By Christina Cathcart/Accent editor
On Sunday, Jan. 22, 1973, Sarah Weddington, the Texas lawyer who argued the controversial case Roe vs. Wade in the Supreme Court, got a 7-2 vote from an all-male bench which paved the path for women to legally obtain abortions in the United States. Thirty years later, that freedom is still a controversial issue and could potentially disappear with the resigning of old and the appointment of new Supreme Court justices.
Roe’s 30th anniversary has shed much attention on the issue of abortion. In the ultimate case of making the personal, political, Roe is the guard protecting women’s right to a safe and legal abortion. This right could waiver as Supreme Court justices begin to resign.
“It’s hard to say where it’s going to go,” said Sara Zeigler, director of the women’s studies program and professor in the department of government. “The abortion rights forces are nervous, and with good reason — Bush will probably appoint someone who will vote pro-life,” Zeigler said.
Just the facts
In order for Roe to be overturned, another case would already have to be percolating in the court system and then come up through the district and circuit courts in order to reach the Supreme Court.
Four justices would then have to vote to take on the case and even then, the case might take from three to five years to be decided, Zeigler said.
In the meantime, women in Eastern Kentucky and beyond will still need reproductive healthcare, whether or not they choose to carry a fetus to term.
In Madison County, pro-life and pro-choice clinics both diligently serve women and their families despite their political differences. They co-exist with the common goal of educating the public on reproductive health and family planning.
Learning to choose
Educating the public on healthy choices and providing support for women and their families are the goals of the Pregnancy Help Center, according to the Center’s director, Mary Lou Stephens.
The Center, which has been located in Richmond for the last 12 years, offers free pregnancy tests and emotional and tangible support, such as diapers, for families in need.
The Center is a pro-life, non-profit organization that functions through the support of local churches.
“We are an outreach of hope and healing,” Stephens said. “We just try to help people make healthy decisions that they can live with.”
The Center cannot give legal or medical advice, but does do educational outreach about “healthy lifestyle choices,” Stephens said.
“We don’t ever use emotional ploys or shock tactics,” Stephens said. “Women don’t need that.”
“A lot of people assume that because we’re a Christian organization that we twist people’s arms into getting them to have their baby,” Stephens said. “It really has to be their decision.”
Just 15 miles south of the Center is another organization that educates women about their bodies.
Mountain Maternal, which is in Berea, has been a Planned Parenthood affiliate since 1945 and provides basic family planning services such as birth control, pap smears and mammograms. Mountain Maternal does not provide abortions.
Part of the clinic’s vision, as stated in their mission statement, is to have “a world where every pregnancy is planned and every child is wanted … and a world where women are free to make informed and responsible decisions about their bodies without government interference.”
Teresa Scott, executive director of Mountain Maternal, seeks to educate women about their bodies, teaching them information such as when in a woman’s cycle she will be most fertile.
“We want to insure that reproductive rights remain intact,” Scott said. “We are pro-choice.”
“We feel that it is a woman’s right to make that decision for herself,” Scott said.
“Only she can make that choice.”