Reproductive rights extend beyond abortion

Regarding your April 23 article "Face of Feminism in 2004": Sunday's March for Women's Lives had received little attention in mainstream media and, as usual, the Monitor offered insights not easily found elsewhere. It's important to understand, however, that reproductive rights encompass far more than abortion rights, although abortion receives the greatest attention.

Women's reproductive health is a human right, which is being steadily eroded around the planet, including in the US, in ways which are both insidious and extremely dangerous to the well-being not only of women, but of families. Reproductive health, while it includes affordable access to safe and legal abortion, includes the right to affordable, safe, and legal contraception; the knowledge and right to use that contraception; and the right to family planning.

I often encounter young women whose understandings of these issues are severely limited - it always seems to come down to abortion alone, and the common misperception that "the issue is settled."
Barbara Gurr
New Haven, Conn.
Interim Director of Women's Studies, Southern Connecticut State University

Can we compromise on abortion rights?

Regarding Alea Woodlee's April 22 Opinion piece "Broadening the meaning of pro-choice": I wonder if Ms. Woodlee has given thought to the effect that Roe v. Wade had on fueling the sexual revolution. The decision has played a great part in permitting the current media bombardment of sexual innuendo, which, according to Woodlee, has resulted in the need for the March for Women's Lives to reaffirm current laws pertaining to abortion.

Perhaps it's time to break this cycle with a change that could help curb sexual permissiveness. I suggest a change that would retain reproductive rights and make abortion more humane. How about limiting abortion to eight weeks, which is before sexual differentiation takes place? After all, great advances have been made since 1973 in early-pregnancy detection. A compromise on this polarizing issue would help Americans focus on other pressing concerns.
Joan McGovern Tendler
Wauwatosa, Wis.

Let's wait for results, please

Regarding William S. Klein's April 23rd Opinion piece "Asimov saw it coming: Picking a voter's brain": Mr. Klein claims to be able to judge the value of laboratory research before it is completed. In particular, he predicts that nothing of value will come from MRI studies of the way voters respond to political ads. Can he make such value judgments in all areas? Or only for experiments that bear on the way he makes a living? I'll bet that astrologers campaigned against the earliest observatories and telescopes with the same mocking tone that Klein adopts. I would be more impressed by a writer who encourages a playful, exploratory approach to the sciences and is willing to let the results of experiments rise or fall on their own merits.
Dave Nartonis

Al-Sadr gains from Iraq's unrest

Regarding David D. Newsom's April 20 Opinion piece "The problem with Iraq: Is it faulty US perception?": As an Iraqi- American with strong ties in Iraq, I find this the best I've read at truly reflecting the feelings and concerns of most Iraqis. I will add a few more points: The killing of many innocent civilians in Fallujah and other cities and indiscriminate shootings by the US Army has dramatically changed the face of occupation. It has given momentum to Moqtada al-Sadr, the only antioccupation figure working to unify Iraqis from the north to the south.
Assad A. Hassoun
San Francisco

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