Readers Write

Broadening the Abortion Debate

Regarding the well-written story "Why Abortion Is the Albatross of US Politics" (April 30) and why abortion inspires more passionate debate here than in Europe: Europe is so morally and intellectually exhausted that there is no energy for moral issues. The moral void becomes evident when one looks at European foreign policy. At the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, China threatens economic retaliation and the larger European states immediately abandon mild criticism of its human rights violations. After withdrawing ambassadors for a few days to protest Iranian terrorism, the European Union sends them back. The German foreign minister's remarks are telling: "No one can criticize us for following our economic interests." America also sometimes put economics first. But it is always a struggle here.

Another difference between here and Europe is the basic fairness of our news media. Surveys suggest most Washington journalists are pro-choice. Yet national media permit pro-life doctors to write op-eds, and publish not only the usual anti-abortion suspects but liberal abortion critics.

We have diverged further than almost any other Western society from the original Judeo-Christian view of work. In the garden of paradise, there was no work. Adam and Eve transgressed, and were condemned to work. Our European friends may no longer be religious. But, with their six-week vacations and enthusiasm for early retirement, they remain close to the tradition of work as punishment. We can't get enough of it. We need to keep this in mind when discussing family matters like abortion and divorce.

John Treacy

Bethesda, Md.

I am a computer programmer and my religious affiliation fluctuates between atheist and agnostic. However, I read the Monitor because I've always thought that, despite being affiliated with the Christian Science Church, the news articles seem to offer an amazingly unbiased view of world affairs. I appreciate your international coverage, and the news is here at my fingertips! On the Web!

So perhaps the editors can imagine my disappointment with recent abortion articles and their pro-life slant. The April 30 story was packed with statistics and quotes, perhaps lending the appearance of impartiality, but it seemed that they primarily reflected the anti-choice view. Where was the opposing view? I was annoyed. I was insulted.

The writer asks, "If the US has a strong anti-abortion streak in its public consciousness, why then does it have the highest abortion rate in the West?" Obviously not everyone in the US has a "strong anti-abortion streak." If it existed, wouldn't all this be moot? And, if "research shows that 10 percent of sexually active women don't use birth control," what about the percentage of sexually active MEN? Does all this talk about women's sexual rights merely deflect attention from the "sexual rights" men seem to take for granted?

Kristen Alvarez

Urbana, Ill.

Natural family planning

"Access to Birth Control Methods Rises Worldwide" (April 16) quotes only one biased source: Population Action International. It uses the word "improved" where an unbiased reporter would use the word "increased" in referring to access to birth control.

The article refers to "All six methods of contraception" without mentioning the "natural family planning" method of birth control, which has the highest success rate of all (97 to 98 percent) and involves no health risk. Many of us who are aware of the tragedy of abortion and the resulting trauma to women who abort, believe oral and injectable contraception to be harmful to women.

It is misleading to relate abortion rate declines in seven countries to expansion of contraceptive services. We quote Rev. Paul Marx, OSB, chairman, Human Life International, Feb. 16, 1997: "A study of 91 countries shows increases in contraception leads to more, not fewer abortions."

Patricia A. and Frank B. Rice

Itasca, Ill.

Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to

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