The Language of the Abortion Debate

Regarding the Opinion page article "Adversaries in Abortion Struggle Can Find Common Ground," April 9: Six times in the article we used the word "pro-life." Every time we used the word it was changed to "anti-abortion" by your editorial staff.

The language change, for those of us in common ground work, is nothing less than destructive of our common ground efforts. This language change tells every astute reader (both pro-choice and pro-life) that in fact, our office is not a common ground office. The message that your paper has communicated is that we are a pro-choice office. This reduces our credibility with our constituencies, particularly those pro-life persons who have reason now to question our evenhandedness.

Our basic ground rule in doing common ground work is to allow each side in this conflict to name themselves, and to call them by the names they choose, rather than the names the other side imposes upon them. Therefore we have consistently refused to call the pro-life supporters "anti-abortion." Likewise we will not name the pro-choice constituency "pro-abortionist." Adrienne Kaufmann and Mary Jacksteit, Washington Common Ground Coalition for Life & Choice

(Editor's note: The editing changes cited were to bring the piece into accord with Monitor style guidelines, which are designed to ensure consistency to grammar, usage, and punctuation throughout the paper. Every newspaper has its own style policies.)

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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