Jan 242002

It’s a situation I can’t imagine myself being in, although it’s my job as a columnist to try. Maybe you can do the same.

Imagine yourself as a 16-year-old woman, going to a rural K-12 school on the eastern plains of Colorado. You fall in love with a young man from the next town. After going out for a few months you have sex. You don’t demand that he uses protection because this is your first time, you’re not very knowledgeable about contraception methods because your school doesn’t have a sex education program, and you’re afraid of losing the first person you’ve ever fallen in love with.

Soon after you find out that you’re pregnant and your boyfriend wants you to abort the baby, or he will break up with you. You are the first person in your family who has thought about leaving home to go to college, but now your parents want you to keep the baby because abortion is against their religion. You’re not so sure you agree with them. You don’t have enough time or money to be able to go to college and support a child at the same time.

What are you going to do now?

This week marked the 29th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion. In Colorado, the war on abortion has far from died. Even though I can’t fully appreciate the difficult decisions women have to deal with in the different stages of their lives, I have to empathize with someone who might be in the hypothetical situation created in this column.

The Colorado State Legislature this week scrutinized the finances of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Planned Parenthood is an organization that provides family counseling, cancer screening and abortion services. The timing of this issue seems like too much of a coincidence to me.

The issue is this: Planned Parenthood was forced to separate its planning and screening arm from its abortion services arm in order to qualify for state funding. By Colorado law, Planned Parenthood can’t use tax money to fund abortions. However, an independent audit ordered last year by the state health department found that Planned Parenthood was offering a below-market-rent rate to its abortion services arm. Planned Parenthood has been disputing this finding.

I worry about the influence Colorado politicians have over the right for women to have a choice. It is rumored Gov. Bill Owens ordered close scrutiny of Planned Parenthood’s finances because of a campaign promise he made to the Christian Coalition to de-fund the group. Owens has denied that he has any influence.

Unfortunately, abortion rights are being used as a tool for politicians to gain a majority of votes in our largely conservative state. Last time I checked, the governor is elected by the residents of Colorado to represent our needs, whether he agrees with us or not. I’m sure every single person in this state is not pro-life. Even if Owens didn’t make a pledge to the Christian Coalition, he has made it no secret that he is pro-life. I hope the state legislature will take a responsible and impartial look at Planned Parenthood’s finances, and that Owens will stay out of the issue.

I’m not sure if abortion is ethically right or wrong. I think that decision rests with someone who has to deal with the difficult situation. According to the United States Supreme Court, abortion is legal. States and the politicians that represent them should not have the opportunity to take the right to decide away from anyone.

Josh Hardin is a senior majoring in technical journalism.

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