Abortion: Right to Life vs Right to Choose Part 1

Part One of a live broadcast from WCET-TV in Cincinnati covering the anti-abortion movement after a national "Right to Life" rally was held in the city.

00:01Copy video clip URL Logo for WCET-TV, Cincinnati. Note that this program is funded by a grant from WCET and other public television stations. 

00:19Copy video clip URL A montage of images from a protest and related to the abortion fight, with audio from pro- and anti-abortion activists. 

00:47Copy video clip URL A TV studio with an audience. A male and female news announcer sit behind a desk with a set of chairs in front of them. Marie Torre speaks first, with a monitor behind her reading “Abortion: Right to Life and Right to Choose,” introducing the program as “the cause that refuses to yield.” She offers a summary of the facts related to the debate and discusses the “Right to Life” rally in Cincinnati’s Fountain Square. 

01:59Copy video clip URL Torre introduces senior correspondent Daniel Schorr, of the Public Interest Video Network, who discusses the rally. “I found myself being singularly impressed with a sense of zeal and commitment that seemed to run through that crowd. It was one of the larger rallies of the ‘Right to Life’ movement but the numbers, as usual, are in dispute, ranging from 4000-8000 depending on whom you talk to. But perhaps the character of the meeting was more significant than numbers. This was a rally of believers, people utterly convinced that they are right and that those who think differently are very, very wrong.” He continues, describing the rally as well as the larger anti-abortion movement. 

03:32Copy video clip URL Schorr interviews Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, who spoke at the rally, who asserts how much more anti-abortion legislation they want to pass. 

03:53Copy video clip URL Torre interviews Carolyn Gerster, the president of National Right to Life, who speaks with enthusiasm and optimism about the anti-abortion movement, comparing it to the pre-Civil War abolition movement. 

04:40Copy video clip URL Gerster’s speech at the rally. 

05:25Copy video clip URL Back in the studio, Torre and Schorr discuss Hyde’s ambitions even after the Hyde Amendment essentially eliminated federal funding for abortions. 

06:28Copy video clip URL Torre introduces Mary Jane O’Donnell, WCET’s evening news anchor. They discuss the reasons why the rally was held in Cincinnati. 

07:20Copy video clip URL O’Donnell reports on the fight to make abortion illegal from an anti-abortion group’s headquarters in Kentucky. She discusses the increasingly organized and committed movement across the country and their legislative victories, as well as the efforts from pro-choice organizations to preserve the right to reproductive freedom. 

10:45Copy video clip URL Torre introduces a segment called “Portrait” in which two women – Sue Gettys and Carol Miller – on both sides of the abortion debate are profiled. Torre introduces videomaker Anda Korsts and newspaper columnist John Filiatreau. They discuss the zealotry of the activists as well as Korsts’ “personal” approach to the topic. 

13:47Copy video clip URL Portrait: The Millers. A documentary profile of Miller, who is anti-abortion. She and her husband Bob discuss their feelings on abortion, including her own grief at a miscarriage. 

15:37Copy video clip URL Portrait: The Gettys. A documentary profile of Sue Gettys, who discusses her family, her career, and her devotion to reproductive freedom. 

17:09Copy video clip URL In the studio, Torre talks about the rise of the “New Right” that focuses not on party lines but on single issues like gun control, the Equal Rights Amendment, and abortion. 

17:56Copy video clip URL An interview about the New Right with religious conservative activist Paul Weyrich, the director of the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress. Weyrich focuses on the importance of “family values” and the attack on “the family” by those who believe in “the social gospel” that “reforming man’s environment alone you reform man. Instead of believing the truth, which is by reforming man you can then reform his environment.” 

19:11Copy video clip URL An interview with anti-abortion activist Thea Rossi Baron, former chief lobbyist for the National Right to Life who lost her job because of her support for the Equal Rights Amendment. She discusses the New Right’s recent failures and her disagreements with their movement. 

21:55Copy video clip URL Weyrich shares his complaints about Rossi-Barrett, especially her willingness to collaborate with liberals and moderates. The segment cuts back and forth between the two of them, with Rossi Baron advocating for collaboration and Weyrich insisting on the need to work only with one’s “base of strength” and maintaining ideological purity. 

23:20Copy video clip URL Torre and Schorr discuss a CBS poll indicating the strength of abortion as a decisive “single issue” for voters. 

24:44Copy video clip URL An anti-abortion rally from June 18, 1979 in Washington, D.C. Interviews with Democratic Rep. Louis Stokes from Ohio, who sees anti-abortion activism as an attack on the poor and disadvantaged. 

25:46Copy video clip URL Schorr interviews Oregon’s Bob Packwood about the utility and danger of single-issue voters.

26:39Copy video clip URL Richard A. Vigueire, a direct mail specialist, discusses using computers to print letters and labels sent to send to voters. 

27:20Copy video clip URL Brief conversations about the rise of the anti-abortion movement and the rise of the New Right with an unidentified person in the studio, with Ambassador Dick Clark, and with George McGovern in Washington, D.C.

30:23Copy video clip URL Schorr discusses the Right to Life organization’s “hit list” of twelve legislators they are trying to defeat, including McGovern, Packwood, Frank Church, Pat Leahy, John Glenn, and others. Schorr relates a conversation he’d had with Church, who was a supporter of anti-abortion legislation but who believed in allowing for exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Another senator did not appear on the list in spite of his stance in favor of reproductive freedom because, he believed, his seat was not vulnerable to a challenge from the right. 

32:15Copy video clip URL An in-studio debate between Karen Mulhauser, National Director of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), and Darla St. Martin, Executive Director of the National Right to Life Committee and President of the Minnesota Concerned Citizens for Life. St. Martin begins by decrying the stereotyping of the anti-abortion movement as being right wing and rejecting the movement’s characterization as “extreme.” 

34:49Copy video clip URL Mulhauser discusses the diversity of membership in NARAL and the shared personnel between anti-abortion groups and far right organizations and religious causes. She asserts that the imposition of a particular religious interpretation of reproductive freedom by the anti-abortion movement is un-American.  St. Martin objects. 

37:58Copy video clip URL A continuation of the “Portraits” in which Sue Gettys attends a pro-choice rally and Carol Miller “makes friends at the Right to Life Convention workshops.” Interviews with Gettys and with attendees at the pro-choice rally, including both pro- and anti-abortion stances. 

40:02Copy video clip URL Miller at the National Right to Life Convention. 

42:23Copy video clip URL Discussion of the attempts to pass legislation banning abortion. Interview with the National Review’s William Rusher, who feels that the “average, typical case” of abortion happens because “the mother just doesn’t want the baby.” When asked about the inherent invasion of privacy to proposed legislation, he responds by mentioning efforts to prevent illegal abortions which would, he admits, invade the mother’s privacy, but “the irony is that the woman herself seems to me to be invading, in a sense, the privacy of the growing life within her.” 

43:47Copy video clip URL Ellen Goodman of The Boston Globe discusses the contradiction between traditional conservative philosophy, in which people are allowed to make their own choices free of government interference, and the efforts among the right to ban abortion. 

44:57Copy video clip URL Torre introduces a segment by reporter Beverly Hall on minority groups’ approaches to abortion. Hall talks about the effects of the Hyde Amendment on the Black community with Planned Parenthood’s Faye Wattleton, which she asserts sets up “a two-class system of medical care” between those who can afford to pay for abortions and those who can’t. 

45:57Copy video clip URL Dr. Helen Rodrigues-Trias of the Committee to End Sterilization Abuse claims that the lack of access to abortion services is pushing people towards sterilization, which is still being funded by the government. 

46:25Copy video clip URL Susan Perry of the National Conference of Black Lawyers talks about the responsibility for minority women to bring these issues to the attention of community leaders. 

46:50Copy video clip URL Hall asserts that minority men often see little difference between abortion, forced sterilization, and genocide, but that minority communities “just aren’t pushing very hard, one way or the other” in the fight over abortion. 

47:25Copy video clip URL An in-studio debate between Margaret Willis, of an Ohio Welfare Rights Organization and the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign, and Jose Granda, President of Pro-Life Minorities of California. Willis feels that the Hyde Amendment is part of a racist, classist effort at exploitation. Grande asserts that abortion is not an issue of religion, but “of life and death” and he holds up a picture of an aborted fetus. Willis objects. 

52:19Copy video clip URL Torre introduces a segment in which the studio audience will participate in the discussion. A montage of folks songs plays while the producers prepare for the segment. Audience members share their thoughts on the government’s role in abortion. 

57:30Copy video clip URL Prof. David Musto compares the anti-abortion movement to the temperance movement.

59:11Copy video clip URL A segment about the ways in which other issues related to sexuality, gender, and religion have become part of the anti-abortion movement. A speech by doctors John C. Wilke and Barbara Wilke about sex education. Discussion of the separation of church and state. Attorney Harriet Pilpel of Planned Parenthood on the need for sex education. Attorney Rhonda Copelon speaks at a pro-choice rally. Phyllis Schlafly speaks against the Equal Rights Amendment as well as against abortion and against efforts to “give homosexuals the same dignity as married couples.” Dr. David Prescott, a developmental psychologist, warns against the slippery slope of legislating reproductive health and sexuality. 




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