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Stars Help Pro-Choice Drive

Celebrities Register Voters in Abortion Rights Drive

By Maggie S. Tucker

Joining a nationwide effort to mobilize support for abortion rights, three celebrities helped student activists register 36 new voters in Harvard Square yesterday morning.

Actors Judd Nelson, Howard Hesseman and Elizabeth Pena came to Harvard as part of the "Freedom of Choice Campus Tour," a pro-choice voter registration drive sponsored by the Hollywood Policy Foundation Center. The three actors stood by student activists near the Harvard Square subway station, and handed out leaflets encouraging people to register to vote.

"We want to get students' voices for choice heard," said Julie F. Kay '90, a member of the steering committee of Harvard-Radcliffe Students for Choice.

"Subtle attempts to legislate away freedom are just as real as the use of clubs, tanks and jails," Nelson said at a press conference later in the morning. "When students around the world are putting their lives on the line for the privilege of voting, we owe it to them to vote ourselves.

Organizers said yesterday they plan for the non-partisan drive, already underway at several other Bostonarea colleges, to culminate in a student Walkout for Choice on May 1.

Since the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services last July, allowing states to impose greater restrictions on abortions, legislators in a number of states have tried to seize the opportunity and pass laws restricting abortions altogether.

Most recently, the Idaho state legislature passed what would have been the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the 50 states. Following vehement objections from abortion rights activists nationwide, however, Gov. Cecil Andrus vetoed the bill.

In response to such legislative initiatives, pro-choice activists are planning concentrated efforts this year to build support for candidates supporting abortion rights, said Pam M. Nourse, executive director of Mass Choice. Nourse said that students may prove to be a critical voting bloc in this year's state elections.

"It's critical that we have a diverse coalition," she said. "An important component of that is students."

Laurence H. Tribe '62, Harvard's Tyler Professor of Constitutional Law, said in an interview yesterday that he believes the 1990s will be "a crucial decade" for the future of abortion legislation. Tribe, a longtime abortion rights advocate, characterized this year as one in which anti-abortion activists are beginning to "test their muscles" legislatively.

Tribe, who was also at the press conference, said, "a great deal of the next decade will build on premises that become reasonably settled this year or next."

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