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Human Life Panelists Disagree On Life's Beginning, Abortion

By William J. Jason

Two speakers disagreed sharply over when life begins before 300 boisterous listeners at an Institute of Politics debate on the Human Rights Amendment last night.

Paul A. Brown, director of the Life Amendment Political Action Committee, said he opposed abortions and favors the Helms-Dorna Human Life Amendment because "abortion means kill" since it has been clinically proven that "life begins at the moment of fertilization."

Dorothy J. Samuels, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, disagreed, saying that scientists and the Supreme Court cannot decide when life begins and that "there is nothing more personal than the right to decide freely whether or not to have children."

Samuels added that the Human Rights Amendment threatens our constitutional rights because "the constitution is supposed to protect us from having others' religious and moral beliefs forced upon us."

Scientists who don't label fertilization as the beginning of life "are basically dishonest and trying to cloud the issue." Brown said.

Asserting that most laws originate from religious beliefs. Brown said abortion should be outlawed because it disobeys the Ten Commandments. He later said that he favors capital punishment to protect society from criminals.

Samuels said, "A Human Rights Amendment would not stop women from getting abortions--it would only make them more dangerous." She added that the amendment would prevent rape victims from aborting the fetuses conceived in the assault.

Brown agreed that an amendment would not stop abortions, but said that the prevention of aborting fetuses conceived from rape is not a viable complaint because "the solution to a violent crime is not another violent crime."

"Family planning is not a problem, family killing is," Brown said.

The choice of birth control devices is a couple's prerogative. Samuels said, but Brown said that Intra-uterine Devices (IUDs) should be outlawed because they are dangerous "not only to the person they kill, but to the woman using them."

Claude A. Villee, Andelot Professor of Biochemistry at the Medical School and the debate's moderator, disagreed with Brown, saying. "You must be reading different medical books than me."

The spectators interrupted the debate several times, hissing at Brown's support of the Human Life Amendment and cheering for Samuels' pro-abortion stand.

The audience's time for questioning was stopped after one hour by Villee because the crowd was becoming too rowdy and many questions remained.

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