Women’s Forum Hosts Dinner on Roe v. Wade

Marking the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision which gave women the choice to have an abortion, Phillips Academy’s Women’s Forum hosted a group discussion and information session Wednesday evening in Ropes Hall. Stephen Fee ’03, whose sister is actively involved with Students for Choice and Planned Parenthood, organized the last-minute event and led much of the evening’s discussion. “For people who are in-step with the Choice movement, this is an important day,” he said. Students raised questions during the course of the meeting, regarding the historical, social, legal, ethical, and political implications of abortion and reproductive rights. Several students voiced concern, after the group unanimously agreed that the pertinent issues of reproductive rights and abortion are not often discussed at Andover, either in and out of the classroom. Another prevalent topic of discussion for the evening was Andover’s role in providing reproductive health services. Fee distributed handouts outlining the services Isham Health Center offers, including contraceptives, birth control counseling, and testing for pregnancy and STDs. Abortion procedures, he noted, are not provided on-campus. Under Massachusetts state law, adolescents under 18 must have either consent of one parent or consent from a court appointed advocate to receive an abortion. Over the past thirty years, since the Supreme Court ruling was unveiled, many organizations, including religious groups, state legislatures, and members of Congress have sought to erode women’s access to safe, legal abortions. Meanwhile, advocates of choice have fought to defend it. In fact, Congress passed a measure twice, in 1996 and 1997, banning abortion procedures, although President Clinton vetoed both bills. Since his inauguration, President George W. Bush’s ’64 administration has pursued a campaign to eliminate reproductive services. Three weeks ago, the State Department announced that U.S. funds were not to be used to support groups that provide such assistance for women. “The goal [of the forum] was to spark a dialogue,” Fee said. “This is something that is out there and that is affecting students here. This is a major issue, and it impacts everyone.”