Roundup: Congresswoman Talks Abortion to Grade-Schoolers

Beth Saunders

Rep. Jean Schmidt talks about abortion at a Catholic elementary school assembly, and college students rally for their right to birth control.

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) is anti-abortion. One would expect her to state her opposition during debates, and rallies, and on her website. She took it a few steps over the line when talking about abortion at a Catholic school assembly full for first- through eight-graders.

Schmidt’s spokesperson, Bruce Pfaff, said that she was discussing the connection between moral issues and legislation.

“One of the examples she came up with was abortion,” he said. “She received a follow-up question, which she answered consistent with Catholic teaching.”

Her talk prompted the principal to send home a letter to parents that read, in part:

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“Unexpectedly, towards the end of her address, Congresswoman Schmidt brought up the topic of abortion, and I am writing you to make you aware of this. Your children may come home with questions, especially if this is a topic that has not been broached in your home. I do not recall the exact words she used, but she paused towards the end of her speech and stated that this would be the only time when she would be ‘political’ in her address. She defined abortion as the taking of a child’s life in the mother’s womb. She indicated that abortion involves the killing of a child before it is born. She was not graphic or any more detailed in this regard. Later, when a child asked about it, she indicated that an abortion is something that a doctor does when a mother requests this. It was not a particularly long segment of her address (1½ minutes or so), and these words may not match the exact words she used, but this description does, I believe, express what your child heard. Her point was to address the increase of governmental activity in the abortion issue and her political resolve to fight against this.”

If only. It would be great if Jean Schmidt rallied to keep the government out of a woman’s decision to have an abortion.

In other (older) student news, college activists are fired up about birth control. At Harvard, students organized a kickoff for their Campus Contraceptive Campaign.

Organized by Harvard Students for Choice, the event marked the start of a nationwide push for free contraceptive access for all women under the new federal health care reform—a goal that would effectively eliminate all co-pays for birth control.

Leah Reis-Dennis ’13, a member of the Students for Choice board, said that Harvard students are already working to get the movement off the ground.

“It’s up to us to use our position of privilege as students at Harvard, a university with so many resources, to stand up for our reproductive rights, as well as the rights and health of women who aren’t in a position to advocate for themselves,” she said.

And from the Badger Herold –  University of Wisconsin-Madison’s student paper –  a columnist warns others that if they don’t want the state’s highest official to “affect the way all sorts of hook-ups would go down on campus” they should not vote for Scott Walker for governor.

Imagine walking into a pharmacy to fill a birth control prescription that you’ve been filling regularly for months; it’s become routine. Now imagine getting to the pharmacy counter only to have the pharmacist tell you, “I’m sorry, I refuse to fill that prescription for you because I don’t believe in birth control.”

Not only would that situation be mildly awkward, but more importantly, that pharmacist would be denying women their basic right to plan for their own future. Plus, women are prescribed birth control for a number of reasons. It is not up to the pharmacist to decide what is best for each woman’s individual health. Currently in Wisconsin, this kind of denial of rights is illegal, but if Wisconsin elects Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker, guaranteed access to birth control could be a thing of the past.

While in the state Legislature, Scott Walker supported a bill that made it OK for any pharmacist to deny a woman access to birth control.

Mini-Roundup: A Catholic priest is scheduled to give a talk tomorrow that might criticize the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ position on abortion law, and the bishops are not happy about it.

Oct 26

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