October 25, 2000

Taking a Stand

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Voter apathy is a major issue in the American political system, and unfortunately, young people are a large part of the problem. At Cornell, however, some students are bucking this trend by taking a stand and making their voices heard.

Nov. 7 will mark a milestone in the lives of many Cornellians as they close the curtains on their polling booths and vote in their first presidential election.

With election day less than two weeks away, however, many students are still undecided when it comes to choosing a candidate. Examining specific election issues is essential to making an educated choice.

Student representatives from the Republican, Democratic, Reform and Green parties as well as Candice Rypisi, director of the Cornell Women’s Resource Center, talked about their personal views on abortion as an election issue and why they feel students should consider this issue before casting their ballots.

This is the second installment in a five part series in which The Sun will examine the election issues important to college students through the eyes of campus political activists and local experts.


Candice Rypisi,

Director, Cornell Women’s Resource Center

“When examining the issues related to abortion students may want to read the candidates’ position statements on topics including the Roe v. Wade decision, the FDA approval of Mifepristone [or RU-486], accessibility to emergency contraception, late term abortions, parental consent notification and clinic access/demonstrator rights.

“[As a student voter, you should] consult the candidates’ voting records during their political tenure and where they fit into their party’s overall stance. While a candidate may or may not choose to make decisions according to party affiliation, it is important to know the ideology of the party they represent regarding abortion rights issues.

“Examine and decide what kind of Supreme Court Justices you would like to see appointed. The next President will most likely appoint two to three new justices. Consider your personal views along with the candidates’ views on related issues such as: funding for women’s health research and services, family planning programs, sex and sexuality education, welfare reform, and violence against women.

“Inform yourself on what national organizations that work on issues of abortion have to say on the issues. Such organizations include but are not limited to: National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, National Right to Life Organization, National Abortion Federation, Feminists for Life.

[Finally], decide what role your feelings on these issues will play in your overall voting decisions.”


Brian Fiske ’02,

President, College Republicans

“There are two major ways in which the next president will affect reproductive rights. The first is by not vetoing legislation that limits partial birth abortion (aborting a baby during delivery). Clinton has done it twice; Bush would not veto this measure. The second is through Supreme Court nominations.

“Bush would probably not appoint judges that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Judges that do not respect precedence do not usually get appointed nor approved by the Senate.

“Bush wants the biggest decisions of the day to be up to the people. Contrary to popular belief, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned, abortion would not be made illegal. Rather, it would just be up to the people of each state.”

Chris Dziedzic, J.D. ’01

Member of Leaders for Lazio

“Governor George W. Bush supports a very sensible, but firmly pro-life stance. He, like the Republican Party, supports the protection of unborn life with exceptions for rape, incest and the protection of the life of the mother. These exception are accepted by many as practical yet unfortunate measures that need to be provided for.

“Very importantly, Governor Bush is interested in options for those children who are “rescued” from abortions. Bush supports the development of strong families for the children of possibly unwanted or unprepared for pregnancies. He supports efforts to increase adoptions including, but not limited to, making permanent the $5,000 adoption tax credit.

“One major concern is the upcoming appointments to the Supreme Court. Yes to be sure, there will not be litmus test for judicial appointees. However, those pro-life Republicans, like myself, can take heart at the prospect of the nomination of a candidate like current Fifth Circuit Ct. of Appeals Judge Emilio M. Garza.

“This is one subject on which Garza is passionate and voluble. He believes that the Supreme Court erred mightily when it ruled in Roe v. Wade that under the federal constitution a woman has a substantive right to obtain an abortion, which trumps the authority of state legislatures to regulate the procedure.”


Alexandra Sanchez ’03

Treasurer, Cornell Democrats

“One of the most clear-cut differences between the major two-party candidates is on the issue of abortion. Simply put, George W. Bush wishes to make abortion illegal through appointing Supreme Court Justices that will completely overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. Al Gore will continue to be a staunch champion for a woman’s right to choose.

“The question of choice is a defining issue in this election. By outlawing abortions, the Christian conservative agenda and its candidate, George W. Bush, wish to impose their moral values on women without considering the horrific implications of such an action. Making abortions illegal would absolutely NOT stop abortions from happening, rather it would just push them underground where they could not be regulated. Al Gore has specific policies on how to keep abortions legal, accessible, safe and rare.

“Al Gore and the current Administration have fought to guarantee that Medicaid recipients who are victims of rape or incest should have access to abortion services, in addition to those whose life is endangered. Additionally, Al Gore does not believe that late-term abortions, rhetorically termed “partial-birth” by conservatives, should be criminalized.

“He supports an exception for such abortions when the life or health of the mother is in danger. The government should not be allowed to deny choice of medical treatment, in this case abortion, when the life or death of the mother is at stake. In my opinion, that would constitute criminal action.”


Antonella Romero grad

Member, Cornell Green Party

“On the issue of reproductive rights, the Green Party fully supports a woman’s right to choose. This covers abortion, including RU-486, and all available forms of birth control. We consider health care a human right, and therefore support a single-payer national insurance program that would cover abortion and birth control.

“Feminism is one of the ten Green values, and we find the politicizing of women’s health in this country appalling. Over 80 percent of U.S. counties do not have abortion providers. This reality exposes the false assumption underlying the Democratic fear of Republican appointments to the Supreme Court. The battle over abortion has shifted from the courts to the clinics, where shootings and anthrax scares have driven doctors out of business or simply killed them off. It is doubtful that [George W. Bush] will accomplish in 2001 what Reagan and Bush Sr. faile
d to do during the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

“While the availability of RU-486 will hopefully improve this situation, the story of this little pill is another example of the stranglehold politics has on women’s health. Viagra went from discovery to coverage by federal health insurance in about a year. RU-486, available in France [for almost 20 years] and proven safer than surgical abortions, was only approved in the US this past summer. This attitude also affects women’s access to birth control, an often-overlooked aspect of our reproductive health. Most women still pay out of pocket for their birth control. While people might say that this is because it’s not a medical necessity, such a statement only reflects the male standard of modern medicine.

“Reproductive health is an essential component of women’s medical needs, and to brush it aside as ‘optional’ is nothing more than sexism inaction.

“I think the one thing we can all agree on is that no one ever wants to have an abortion. Obviously, adequate [sex education] and available birth control can go a long way in preventing unwanted pregnancies.

However, what we, as a society, often overlook are the social and economic pressures women face when dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. You can not be pro-choice and simultaneously ignore the lack of affordable day care, health care, living wages and educational opportunities that often times leave women feeling as if they have no choice at all. The Green Party is the only party to adequately address these issues and to work towards a society that goes beyond the rhetoric to actually give women a choice.”


Marshall Montgomery ’04

Reform Party Activist

“In the 27 years since the Supreme Court declared that abortion is a constitutional right, over 36 million unborn American children have been slaughtered, 1.4 million every year, 4,000 every day. If irresponsible mothers and money-driven physicians had only waited [until the babies were born], these deaths [would be called] ‘genocide.’ But by labeling the practice ‘choice,’ our activist judges, politicians and pundits wash their hands of the blood of these innocents.

“If elected President, Reform Party nominee Patrick Buchanan will insist that all of his Supreme Court nominees will be pro-life. He will [fight against] the ‘abortion industry,’ from Planned Parenthood to fetal tissue research. Finally, he will urge for the passage of a Human Life Amendment conferring the constitutional rights of personhood onto the unborn. Abortion will remain legal to save the mother’s life, but not her figure.

“We also hear that a Bush presidency will forever rescind the woman’s right to choose. But lest we forget: It was his father who gave us [Justice] David Souter. It was a moderate Dwight D. Eisenhower that gave us the most activist Supreme Court of modern times. And it was the Lone Star governor himself, who in 1996 introduced a resolution to remove the anti-abortion plank from the Texas State Republican Platform.

“A Gore Administration will perpetuate the ‘culture of death’ and the Bush campaign has betrayed the cause of life. There is a candidate who has a litmus test. There is a candidate with strong principles, and there is a candidate who will fight the status quo with courage to stand where the GOP has stumbled. His name is Patrick J. Buchanan.”

Archived article by Katherine Davis