March 23: Juneau Empire on abortion delays

Posted: Monday, March 27, 2000

House Bill 329, which would require a 24-hour delay before a woman could have an abortion, had its first hearing this week and already the battle lines are drawn.

Sponsored by Rep. John Coghill, a North Pole Republican, the bill also requires women be given brochures with pictures showing various stages of fetal development, as well as information on possible complications from the procedure and various alternatives to abortion.

''Pro-choice'' advocates oppose the measure, saying it places an ''undue burden'' on women. They argue by delaying the procedure, women could face additional pressure from pro-life forces. And they say it's unfair for women who live outside of Anchorage because of the additional time and expense in traveling.

We have a big problem with that line of thought. Regardless of one's view on abortion, it is a major invasive medical procedure. Waiting 24 hours for such an elective action and knowing the potential impacts doesn't seem unreasonable.

While both sides continue the debate on terminology - is it a child, a fetus or just ''something,'' one fact remains: Abortion ends the life of a future child.

Such a decision should not be taken lightly. Having to wait 24 hours and receive information about the medical and psychological impacts of such an action does not seem an undue burden in our view.

We agree with the women who testified Tuesday in support of the bill. They pointed out they received little information and didn't realize the long-term consequences of such an action. And they wish they had had that information.

Abortion is a major decision, regardless of one's often passionate view on it. Waiting another 24 hours for such a life-changing decision is not unreasonable.

We therefore support this legislation.

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