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Right to choose shouldn't be taken for granted



Published: Wed, February 2, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Right to choose shouldn'tbe taken for granted

DITOR:

On Jan. 22, we celebrated 32 years of reproductive freedom for women. On that day in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade and recognized the right to choose an abortion, a momentous decision that has saved countless women's lives.

This year's Roe anniversary coincided with the second inauguration of President George W. Bush. On Jan. 24, President Bush made his annual phone call to rally anti-choice, so-called "Pro-Life" marchers in the nation's capital, just as he has done now for the past five years. He spoke ardently about creating a "culture of life" in America.

We challenge him to fully live up to that promise. Pro-choice is not some stagnant feminist mantra. It is a dynamic moral value that defends the rights of women and men to decide for themselves, if and when, they are ready to be the best parents they can be. It's goal is loved, nurtured and wanted children who are supported in every way.

A real "culture of life" does not begin nor end with a single cell, a fetus or birth itself. It is a larger vision in which all families can afford health care, children have food on the table and parents dream about giving their children the education and opportunities that they never had. Where are those public policies? Are we spending any political capital here?

A culture of life respects all women and men; even those whose religious beliefs and life circumstance call them to make a different choice than you would make. It values the fundamental human right to privacy and autonomy to have control over our most profoundly personal human experience -- the decision to bear and raise a child. It supports public policies that elevate equality for both sexes, creating opportunity and demanding personal responsibility. It does not impose personal ideology over science in the world community by restricting access to condoms for HIV prevention, to international family planning programs, to medically accurate sex education and to stem cell research.

Our nation is just one Supreme Court justice away from dismantling the right to privacy upheld in Roe, but established in earlier cases about our right to birth control. President Bush will have the opportunity to nominate one, perhaps as many as three, new justices. Every lower court nominee during his first term was determined to overturn Roe. Yet, we know that the majority of Americans are pro-choice.

Now is the time to speak up for the fundamental choice that Roe guarantees before it's too late. The very fact that we can "choose" in each pregnancy affirms how much we value children. Roe v. Wade saves women's lives while it affirms our humanity. Do not let these fundamental human rights be taken away by a virulently anti-choice president and a U.S. Congress whose commitment to "life" seems to end at birth.

KAREN HACKENBERRY

CEO/President

Planned Parenthood of Mahoning Valley

A person's a person ...

EDITOR:

Even Dr. Seuss had it right in "Horton Hears a Who:" "A person's a person, no matter how small."

Over the past 30 years, nearly every literate person regardless of religious belief has learned the basic scientific fact of when a human life begins. Contrary to the position taken in your editorial (2005 political implications of a 1973 court decision, Jan 26), leading textbooks in embryology make the answer clear with statements similar to the following: & quot;Human development begins at fertilization when a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell -- a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual & quot; (Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human:Clinically Oriented Embryology, 5th edition; see also William J. Larsen, Essentials of Human Embryology; Scott F. Gilbert, Developmental Biology, 7th edition; and Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Muller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition.)

The question never answered, or even asked, by the editorial writer is why, in a free country, do some who are undeniably human beings have a right to legal protection, while others do not?

MELINDA KNIGHT

Catholic Diocese of Youngstown

Office of Pro-Life Activities




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