Flawed Abortion ArgumentI have long since given up on...


July 31, 1993

Flawed Abortion Argument

I have long since given up on expecting rational argument from anyone on the so-called pro-choice side of the abortion debate, but your July 6 editorial attacking the House for voting to retain the Hyde amendment was so flawed in its reasoning, I could not restrain myself from replying.

First, you parrot President Clinton's glib assertion that abortions can be made "safe and legal," but "rare." Just how do you propose to make abortions rare since you are also proposing to make them free through Medicaid funding? As any economist and almost any layman can tell you, lowering the price of a good or service increases the amount of it that people will buy.

You say abortions can become rare "with good family planning policies." We already have publicly funded family planning, we've made contraceptives available to anyone who wants them (including school children) and we've had a quarter century of sex education in the public schools -- and still 1.6 million abortions are performed each year.

Since these voluntary programs have failed, are you suggesting the adoption of more coercive measures, such as compulsory sterilization? If that is the case, you should say so.

Next, you assert that Rep. Henry Hyde's comment on the genocidal motivation behind the effort to make free abortions available to poor women suggests that these women "have no minds of their own" and cannot be trusted with a "choice."

How you leaped to this conclusion, with its implied charge of racism, is a mystery to me. It is well known that Mr. Hyde doesn't believe any woman, rich or poor, black or white, should be trusted with the choice of destroying the life of her child.

However, you are guilty of racism and sexism yourselves; in the very last paragraph, you find it "worth noting" that 91 of the 98 Democrats who voted for the Hyde amendment are "white males." Are you suggesting that they should not be trusted with a vote?

Your editorial did make one statement I cannot dispute, that "abortion always represents a tragic dilemma." But I wonder if you have thought through the implications of that statement. Specifically, have you asked yourselves what is it about abortion that makes it a dilemma?

It certainly cannot be the procedure itself; after all, since Roe vs. Wade, abortion has been "safe" (for the woman, that is) and "legal," and for most women amounts to little more than the inconvenience and discomfort resulting from a few hours spent in an abortion clinic.

If that's all there is to it, the decision to abort a pregnancy should present no more of a dilemma than the decision to have a hernia operation.

If abortion does represent a "tragic dilemma" -- and I think almost everyone would agree that it does -- then it can only be because of the awareness that the procedure does, in fact, destroy an actual (not potential) human life.

And the implication of that conclusion simply cannot be evaded: Women should not have the "right to choose" to kill their unborn children any more than anyone should have the right to choose to kill another human being.

Philip R. Manger


Words of Faith

Some people are apparently under the impression that the purpose of prayer in the public schools is to witness to unbelievers and to proselytize young members of other faiths.

I cannot say that such a motive does not sometimes enter into it, but even the most enthusiastic school prayer advocates would admit that the probability of effective witness in that environment is extremely low.

Indeed, winning converts in such a setting ranks in difficulty somewhere between leaping tall buildings and calming the Incredible Hulk.

The more fundamental purpose of a school prayer or invocation is to ask for divine guidance and blessings on the school's activities and its student -- much as the chaplain of the United States Senate asks for God's blessings on the deliberations of that legislative body.

I know that it might not make sense to non-believers, but persons of faith -- Christian, Jewish and Muslim -- are convinced that God's blessings mean something, and to get them you must ask for them.

I'm sure that everyone who has observed public schools over the past decade or so would agree that they need all the divine help they can get.

It seems to me that we can somehow invoke God's blessings on our public schools and their students without violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Can't men of good will from all faiths work this out?

Edwin S. Jordan

Ellicott City

Asian Treasures

Your July 4 editorial, "New Helmsman at the Walters," erred in stating that the Hackerman was "Maryland's only museum of Asian art." I wish to call attention to at least three other fine collections of Asian art in Maryland.

They are the Roberts Collection at Towson State University, the collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the fine holdings (particularly Japanese works) at the Evergreen House, whose tour is one of the greatest delights of Baltimore.

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