Student opponents to a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the U.S. Constitution manned a table at Dunster House yesterday, launching what they say will be a University-wide letter-writing campaign.
A campaign that already involves about 20 men and women from Harvard is gearing up for the effort, Amy J. Ewing '81, a staff member of the Harvard Women's Clearinghouse, said yesterday. Ewing said volunteers at every undergraduate dining hall will distribute literature on the proposed amendment next Sunday and students will be urged to write their Congressmen.
The Human Life Amendment, sponsored by Jessee Helms (R.N.C.), would guarantee that "the right to life is vested in each human being from the moment of fertilization"--prohibiting artificial contraception--and would nullify the 1973 Supreme Court decision that upheld abortion rights.
Kathleen A. Karpilow, a graduate student and Dunster House tutor who began the letter-writing campaign, pointed out that the proposed amendment would outlaw not only abortions, but also intra-uterine devices (IUD), the "morning after pill," and any method of birth control that works after conception.
Helms, in addition to introducing the amendment, has proposed a similar bill in the Senate. Many of the letter-writing campaign's organizers yesterday called Helms' bill the greater threat because it is more likely to pass.
"A lot of Congressmen who wouldn't want to vote for a Constitutional Amendment wouldn't mind voting for a bill," Gail E. Gabler '81, who is active in the Boston National Organization for Women (NOW), said yesterday.
Most of the campaign's organizers said their first priority is education. "People who know about it are worried," Gabler said, "but most people don't know anything about it."
The postering and tabling so far appear to have had an effect, however, Carol Steiker '82, a Dunster House resident, said yesterday. "I think that the best thing is that the posters have been making people talk about it. I've heard a thousand conversations about the amendment since we started," Steiker said.
On April 9 or 16, the Institute of Politics (IOP) plans to hold a debate on the amendment. Speakers for the debate, to be co-sponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) and the Harvard Republican Club, have not yet been determined, Victoria Eastus '83, an IOP organizer, said yesterday.
"If people get the idea that this is possible. I think that we'll get more of a reaction--and not only from campuses like Harvard," Steiker said.