Roe v. Wade, Civil Disobedience, and the Right to Protest

Regarding the Opinion page column "A Long Shadow Across Roe v. Wade," Jan. 20: When is it morally acceptable to perform civil disobedience to protect life? Are these people violent radicals equivalent to the mafia or the Ku Klux Klan, as the press portrays them, or are they merely people who feel abortion is murder, and that there must be a witness to protest the taking of life?

If President Clinton is a centrist coalitionmaker, then why doesn't he look instead at European abortion laws, which assist women who have problem pregnancies with welfare programs - but also have waiting periods and some restrictions past the first trimester of pregnancy.

How society will treat life - and how society will treat those who willingly face arrest to protest the taking of life, even when what is occurring is camouflaged under the guise of rights and privacy - must be decided now.

If we use harsh laws to destroy the conservative moral voice of the community, who will be left to stand in the gap to be a voice in the future? Nancy K. O'Connor, Nanty Glo, Pa. A way to stop war?

It is well that Prime Minister John Major is hesitating to commit British troops to Bosnia. It is evident that the way to stop wars is not by accelerating the pace - sending troops and armaments - and causing more killing and devastation. An individual is just as dead when killed by a United Nations bullet as by a Serbian bullet.

The way to end wars would be to put a total embargo on the shipment of arms to friends, enemies, allies, and neutrals. If the belligerents cannot get weapons, then they cannot fight. It's as simple as that.

Since selling armaments is such a lucrative business, this embargo may be difficult to get through legislatures. Arms manufacturers and dealers have so much wealth and clout that their opposition is bound to be massive. But public opinion can be rallied by opponents to war.

If one-tenth of the money being spent to stop the carnage in Bosnia and Somalia were diverted to help the economies of some troubled nations, the world would progress more rapidly into a peaceful 21st century. Edith Osborn, Victoria, B.C. International guns trade

Regarding the editorial "Dealing With Somalia's Guns," Dec. 16: Accurately - although too late - the Monitor reports: "Without a doubt, the glut of assault riffles and other weaponry has played a major part in creating Somalia's problems. And many of those guns are of American or Soviet origin."

The same situation repeated itself in other places; international arms and ammunition transfers fueling, aggravating, and prolonging international conflicts.

International politics has played a role, but the worst part of it all has been the profit motive. Well over 90 percent of arms supplies have originated with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the very body to which the UN charter has entrusted the peace and security of the world.

Still today, despite the end of the cold war, the arms exporting countries refuse to accept the proposal of a comprehensive international treaty, a treaty regulating all arms transfers and, to a large extent, proscribing the arms business. But they look surprised and indignant at the situation in Somalia and elsewhere. Eduardo Marino, London

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