Letter: 'Choice' means respect for all women


To the editor:

The columns of Kathleen Parker (June 9) and Michael Gerson (June 11) make it necessary to add one old idea to include in the endless controversy about abortion and abortion rights.

Reference to availability of birth control can't be a whispered opportunity to blame women of child-bearing age for unwanted pregnancy. We have to look squarely at Hobby Lobby declining to cover contraceptive options in their employees' health insurance because of the founder's disapproval. Some pharmacists prefer not to provide "morning after" pills to women of any age.

Mr. Gerson's column makes this simple, truth clear: there is no obvious, clear agreement among Americans about whether and when abortion is the best, or a good, or necessary, or excusable course of action. He added that nearly 80 percent " of Americans believe that abortion should be available in all or some circumstances." And, nearly 70 percent" believe that abortion should be restricted in all or some circumstances."

Mr. Gerson and Ms. Parker each reference one religious faith, Roman Catholic. Among United Church of Christ Congregationalists, Unitarian-Universalists, Quakers, Methodists, American Baptists, Episcopalians, are some of the protestant Christians who don't refer to the Roman Catholic church for the one, true policy about women's reproductive health, including contraception and abortion. There are other Protestants who are more inclined to make policies and pronouncements about abortion. Some make efforts to assist women with charitable services and supports. Some faith paths have bases in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam; others are in New Age directions of explorations.

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The last time I had a serious conversation with another aging, "boomer" woman about abortion, she was a lifelong Catholic, and I am a lifelong liberal Protestant. I asked her a very basic question based in our shared allegiance to our beloved country. I said, "I respect how important it is to you that no law can force any daughter or granddaughter of yours to have an abortion because of your faith." Then I went on, "I, too, hold strongly to my faith. We believe that no law should force my daughter, or her daughter to have a baby or to have an abortion. I respect your faith, and will defend your right to abide by it. Can you respect my faith, and defend my right to abide by it?" She stared soberly at me in wordless silence, her mouth half open.

"Choice" is not a code word. It means respect for all women; no committee of politicians or doctors or clergy can make the decision about the individual woman and her circumstances. Only she can choose whether to bring a pregnancy to term.

The anti-abortion rights faction has developed the myth of abortion until the last day of gestation before birth. "Failed abortion" is another myth. Both are part of the extreme anti-abortion rights activists' insistence that there is no significant difference between the fertilized ovum and the fully developed fetus in the latter half of the third trimester. If a mother's health is at risk in the last few weeks of a pregnancy, her doctor can do a "C-section" and deliver the baby, earlier than Nature would dictate, but not an abortion: a birth.

Julia Kay-Grace,



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