Abortion has not dominated the debate this year as it has in some past campaigns, though the approval of the abortion pill RU 486 in September 2000 has brought the issue back into the limelight. Few Americans have strictly pro-choice or pro-life views, and most of the debate this year has centered on what restrictions if any are appropriate on the original 1973 Roe V Wade rights. The next president will nominate as many as four new supreme
court justices, and the present court has a thin 5 to 4 pro-abortion majority,
so this election could well decide the fate of Roe v. Wade for the next several
About a quarter of all US pregnancies end in abortion, though the
number of U.S. counties with abortion providers has been decreasing in recent
years: currently, only 14 percent have them. Restrictions being debated this
year include mandating waiting periods before abortions, banning 'partial
birth' abortions and requiring parental notification for minors who want
abortions. Some of these provisions are already in operation in 30 states.
Also on the agenda is a ban on abortion coverage under taxpayer-funded
programs like Medicaid.
Federal rules could also be rewritten in another area: allowing churches and
other faith based institutions to perform more social services, with the use of
tax dollars. Though critics call it a violation of the separation church and
state, both candidates support the idea, though they differ in degree of
emphasis on it.
This is the first election where the Internet is bringing up a crop of new
social issues. The explosion of online transactions have led to concerns
about encryption and the confidentiality of personal information on the Net.
Currently, websites can track information about users through "cookies", and
there are no rules about what they can do with the information except voluntary
codes. Information gleaned from different sources is used to create individual
profiles of users: how much they earn, what they buy, their interests etc.,
and is sold to whoever is willing to pay for it. How to ensure online privacy,
as well as other internet-related issues like taxing e-commerce and making
government more responsive and accountable through the use of the Internet are
new issues this year.
"I will defend a woman's right to choose, regardless of her economic
circumstances. I will not allow Roe v. Wade to be overturned," is Gore's stand
on abortion. Though he has been a reliable voice for the pro-choice viewpoint,
he did vote against the use of Medicaid for abortions in 1984. Gore says he
has since changed his views and thinks the government should not dictate what
individual women should do when faced with abortion. On the other hand, Bush
has spelled out his agenda on the issue as "Every child, born and unborn,
protected in law and welcomed into life. That's what the next president ought
to do." Texas has parental notification laws requiring that parents and
guardians be notified by phone or certified mail at least 48 hours before an
abortion is performed on a minor.
Gore has also come out in favor of strong protections for personal information
released online: he has been very pro-active on technology issues in the past,
and has worked with several internet providers to develop filters to keep
objectionable content out of the purview of children. Both Bush and Gore have
said they will make the government more responsive using the Internet. Bush
has done that in Texas.
Should restrictions be put on abortion rights, and if so what should they
Gore does not favor any restrictions on abortion, which he believes is a
woman's prerogative. He is a supporter of the original Roe v. Wade decision in
its entirety. (More on Gore's views and record on abortion rights.)
Bush opposes abortion, except in cases of rape or incest, or if the mother's
life is in danger. He also supports several specific restrictions including
parental notification for minors seeking abortion, mandatory waiting periods, a
ban on 'partial birth' abortions, and prohibition of taxpayer money in any form
being used to fund abortions. This would include Medicaid, abortions for women
in the military and funding of non-profits which work on family planning
overseas and provide abortion counseling and services. Bush also belives
states should have the right to "enact reasonable laws and restrictions to end
the inhumane practice of ending a life that otherwise could live." Bush
supports reducing abortions through promotion of adoptions and abstinence
education. (More on Bush's views on abortion rights.)
How should online privacy be guarded?
Al Gore has called for an Electronic Bill of Rights to regulate the use of
personal information released online, including financial, medical and genetic
information. It would allow consumers to know what is being done with their
personal information and to block its sale or transfer to others. "No matter
how our technology grows and changes, your fundamental right to privacy is
something that must never change," he has said. Gore is a supporter of
self-regulation by the Internet, but believes more has to be done in this area.
He also says he intends to reform government by making more information
available online to citizens and will make sure the Internet is available in
every classroom . (More on Gore's Internet and Technology Agenda.)
Bush has not come up with any specific proposals on online privacy. However,
he has said he will make 'e-government' a priority when he assumes office and
use the Internet to "to clear away the layers between the citizen and the
Should churches and other faith based organizations be allowed to provide
Gore has indicated support for the idea that churches and other
faith based organizations be allowed to perform more social services, though it
is unclear whether he would allow them to use federal assistance.
Bush believes strongly that churches and other faith-based institutions should
be allowed to provide basic social services to the needy, if need be by using
federal assistance. Bush proposes establishing an 'Office of Faith-Based
Action' in the Executive Office of the President to oversee such work and would
encourage the formation of similar offices at the state level. He also believes
that religious training should be accepted as an alternative form of
qualification for those working in non-medical social services.
Source for abortion facts.
Reports from the Alan Guttmacher Institute
The New York Times Abortion Issue Updates (requires free registration)
tools for choice ·
are you sure? ·
"The Personal is Political: Online Privacy" (Slate)
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