I take major issue with Gail Collins' Dec. 13 op-ed column entitled "Running in reverse."

Ms. Collins is indeed right in her assertion that the Republican Party has a gender-gap problem and that it is not handling this problem wisely. Ms. Collins is wrong, however, when she argues that the Republican Party needs to give up its pro-life stance. In fact quite the opposite is true.

The reason that the abortion issue is tripping up the GOP is because Republican leaders and candidates are pretending that they have something to hide when they have nothing to hide. Consider New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Mr. Christie is a moderate on most issues but on abortion he sided firmly with conservative Republicans. He was very clear that except in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother he was strongly against abortion and believed it should be illegal. He did not give any apologies for his position and he did not pretend that he was embarrassed of it. He spoke it plainly and clearly because he knew he was right.

And whether Ms. Collins likes it or not it worked for him. His constituents saw a strong and determined leader who wanted to make the world a better place in him and so as a result he won re-election as governor in the liberal state of New Jersey by over 20 points.

Ms. Collins also claims that Republicans do not believe that women should have reproductive freedom, but that is not true. Republicans believe that a woman should have four reproductive options: Chastity, contraception, adoption, and motherhood. The only thing that pro-lifers want to do is take away one of those options, abortion.

Republicans should not abandon their pro-life convictions. Doing so would be the abandonment of an existential moral duty and would get them nowhere in their search for greater national prominence. The only way that Republicans will gain greater national prominence is by ceasing to pretend that they have something to hide on the abortion issue and by stating their pro-life convictions loudly and clearly.

GABRIEL GREENSPAN

Becket