No choice but choice

June 18, 1991

On Sunday some 1,500 Maryland citizens demonstrated their sincere and intense opposition to abortion by turning out in 100-degree heat to form a "Life Chain" to Annapolis in the hope of overturning Maryland's new liberal abortion law.

But one person's commitment is another person's oppression, and so it is with abortion. If you don't believe that every abortion is murder, and believe that abortion is an acceptable, even if undesirable, way to limit the number of babies a woman chooses to have, then the anti-abortion position does indeed become a most insidious form of oppression.

While granting the anti-abortion movement's sincerity, we must never lose sight of the fact that being against abortion is not the opposite of being for choice. You can be both.

Recently we observed that compelling a woman to have a baby she doesn't want is as morally repugnant as compelling a woman to have an abortion she doesn't want. In each instance, outside parties impose a decision that should be the exclusive province of the woman.

As we expected, a letter-writer objected, saying that no one is proposing compulsory abortions. That is correct -- insofar as this country is concerned. But within recent days, alarm over willy-nilly population growth has once again raised the specter of coerced abortions in China. Not forced abortions, as many claim, but certainly coerced abortions.

In a recent controversial decision, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that the federal government has the power to instruct doctors at publicly supported clinics not to counsel women on how to obtain abortions, even if they seek the information. Does it not follow that another president, in another time, perhaps appealing to fears of the out-of-control growth of a "welfare class," could not instruct doctors in publicly supported clinics that they should encourage women to seek abortions, whether they ask or not?

Thus the analogy between compulsory childbearing and compulsory abortion is not so far-fetched as it may seem at first bounce. All of which is to say, there is no choice but choice -- the unfettered individual choice of each woman to determine for herself whether she shall bear a child.

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