Letters to the Editor

Readers write about feminism and the pro-life movement.

The pros and cons of being a pro-life feminist

Regarding the Oct. 14 Opinion piece, "Amid Palin hype, a pro-life feminist's dilemma": "Pro-life feminism" is a contradiction in terms. A woman who would deprive other women of control over their own bodies, by legally compelling them to carry pregnancies to term against their will, is not a credible advocate of women's rights.

Abortion is not an easy choice for any woman and it would be a good thing if the need for it were minimized through conscientious use of contraception. But the claim that a fetus is a person under the law has intolerable implications. A fetal "right to life" would define doctors who perform abortions, and women who undergo them, as murderers. This would be the case even for women who became pregnant through rape, or who were carrying profoundly defective children.

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The law should protect the pregnant woman's right to decide what to do. Any other policy is opposed both to feminism and to the broader concept of individual rights.

William H. Stoddard
San Diego

I am a Christian and I am not pro-choice. But this great country of ours embraces the separation of church and state. Therefore, I feel as bound to accept that concept as I do the tenets of my religion. Bill Clinton said something in his speech at the Democratic National Convention that was quite meaningful to me: "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power." I see an analogy there. If, by my example rather than my insistence, I can change how people see things, I have accomplished a great deal.

Diane Otten
Garnet Valley, Pa.

I am a practicing Roman Catholic woman who is both pro-life and pro-woman. I understand the struggle of determining which party better suits my inclinations.

This year I have decided to support Barack Obama. I believe the Democrats, at this time, are more honestly intent on addressing the needs of the poor in this country. In the end, I am not only pro-life and pro-woman; I am pro-dignity, as well.

Rita McGill Vondracek
Wells, Minn.

I was hoping for more from this commentary, such as an explanation of what "pro-life feminists" are, what positions they take, and why they take them. All I know is that Ms. Kays-Burden is antiabortion; she lists no other women's issue or other political issue she cares about. Also, I disagree that the only reason that women's groups don't support Palin is because of her abortion stance. There appear to be a whole host of reasons why Palin is not finding support among feminists. For example, one of her budget cuts as mayor of Wasilla resulted in sexual assault victims having to pay for their own rape kits.

Laura Tompkins
Milford, Ohio

Angela Kays-Burden is apparently unfamiliar with the people who vote Republican and leans on a false dilemma. We Republicans most certainly do support the mother facing an unplanned pregnancy. For the most part, we prefer to spend our own money and time, rather than using government resources, by supporting the pregnancy care centers that abortion proponents call "antichoice."

Beverly B. Nuckols
New Braunfels, Texas

I have the same problem with Angela Kays-Burden's opinion that I do with most "pro-life" people. Simply put, pro-lifers have never expressed any interest in helping poor women and poor children. Pro-lifers are interested in the fetus up until the day it is born a child. After that, social Darwinism rules the day. If pro-lifers cared about children and women, there would be no hungry or homeless people in this country, every person in this country would be able to see a doctor, and there would be a good education system.

Frank Stanton
Campbell, Calif.

As I drove home today amid a sea of political bumper stickers, I felt that gnawing feeling of being a political orphan. I am a pro-life feminist with the remainder of my political views aligning with the Democratic ticket. Where do I turn for fellowship and camaraderie in this cause? We are a group without much of a voice.

Angela Kays-Burden brought a welling-up of hope inside me. I hope that she will continue to explore and write on this issue. The hypocrisy of both major parties in regard to abortion and women is overwhelming. Republicans and Democrats alike have forsaken us. Please be our voice.

Michelle Wood
Tallahassee, Fla.

Regarding so-called feminist Angela Kays-Burden and her pro-life position: Would she call for making abortions illegal, rather than a personal decision made by the woman? And if made illegal, what would be the penalty for having an abortion? Illegal acts usually require some punishment, after all. A fine? Jail time? The death sentence?

It's clear to me that making abortions illegal will not prevent them. As long as women feel the need to stop an unwanted pregnancy, there will be abortions. Whether they remain safe for every woman who makes that choice is the issue Ms. Hays-Burden, as a feminist, should be concerned with.

Catherine Aks
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Is Ms. Kays-Burden saying that a woman who does not share her beliefs must carry her pregnancy through? Is that why people leave the Democratic Party? If so, what can a politician do to draw them back?

And as far as supporting single parents, the more humane party is the one trying to raise the minimum wage. Having lived in poor areas, I have observed the plight of women saddled with a child they cannot support.

Marsha Woodbury
Urbana, Ill.

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