Local News

Abortion Rights Debate Continues, 26 Years After Roe vs. Wade Ruling

Posted January 21, 1999

— On the 26th anniversary of theRoe vs. Waderuling that made abortion legal, local and federal officials are promising to stop the violence.

President Clinton wants to allocate $4.2 million towards making abortion clinics safer. Clinic directors say that's not a lot of money, but it's a start.

"There has been violence against clinics really for 15 years," says Susan Hill, a clinic director. "We know each other, we care about each other, and we worry about each other. I think it impacts us every day when we walk into clinics and have to provide the services, but we will continue to provide them."

In the last year, there have been many instances of violence and threats at clinics throughout the country, including two in Fayetteville.

Friday, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department kept a close eye on the Carolina Women's Clinic, which was set on fire in September.

"[Violence] can happen at any time," says Cumberland County Sheriff Moose Butler. "We encourage our officers to be alert and observant for anything that looks not normal around a building, and to stop and look at it."

Most clinics have armed guards and metal detectors, but people who work there say there is a heightened awareness of danger.

"I think the biggest thing that people are doing is just being more aware," says Kay Michaels, a spokesperson forPlanned Parenthood."They're more aware of their surroundings, they're more aware of people that might be around their clinics."

People who oppose abortion say the media is unfairly concentrating on the violence and threats at clinics, rather than on the issue itself.

Most opponents also say they do not advocate violence, and resent being lumped together with the vigilante segment of the movement.

"The people who take matters into their own hands are such a trivial portion of the groups involved, it's sort of mind-boggling that anyone attempts to lump them together," says Paul Stam, a spokesperson for N.C.Right to Life.

Stam also said he is surprised that Roe vs. Wade has stayed in place for 26 years.

"I thought it might survive three or four years," he said. "I'm flabbergasted that the great American people have put up with it this long."

Both sides agree that 26 years after the ruling, the heated debate continues.

AWeb siteadvocating violence against abortion doctors has also raised concerns. Hill says that she is on the site, but she says unfortunately, the risk comes with the territory.

People on both sides of this issue have a legislative agenda in North Carolina this year.

Those in favor of abortion would like to see youth have more access to information about contraception. People against abortion would like to see parents have more control over what access their teenagers have to information about contraception and abortion.

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