Democrats on abortion: Focus on principles, not vocabulary

Learning that Democrats are willing to see the nuances of the abortion issue is refreshing ("For Democrats, abortion revisited," Jan. 21). However, Howard Dean's comment that we can change our vocabulary, but not our principles, misses the point.

Roe v. Wade, to my understanding, permits abortion up to "viability" - when the baby could survive outside of the womb, usually at about five and a half months - and after viability in cases of threats to the health of the mother.

In my opinion, one can be pro-choice yet recognize the moral nature of the abortion issue, supporting abortion rights early in pregnancy (whether up to "viability," or just in the first trimester) as well as in the exceptions protected by Roe v. Wade. National polls also show that a majority of Americans support some abortion rights, but are uncomfortable with unrestricted abortion.

Add to the above the idea that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare," and propose programs to help mothers and children and to reduce teen pregnancy.

Then you have a principle - not just vocabulary - that can represent what progressives like me, who are moderate on social issues, believe.

I say to our party leaders, don't simply change your vocabulary. Rather, pick your principles and stick by them.
Marc Cittone
Fort Collins, Colo.

As a devoted Democrat and a devout Mormon, I have to bite my lip in expressing support for the party that sometimes seems to have made abortion rights its No. 1 priority. I know that the party stands for many other things that I fully support, so I continue my support with the hope that it will soon begin a dialogue on that very issue.

I do not dispute your assertion that most Democrats are pro-choice, if you mean by that the majority, but many feel the same as I do. I also think it worth noting how many Republicans are pro-choice - thus the appearances of Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the stars of the summer's Republican convention.

It is my hope and prayer that we can all start a civil dialogue on this most volatile issue to bring some sanity and some humanity to the choices we make.
K. Lamonte
John Burke, Va.

China: Time to reach out to Taiwan

Regarding the Jan. 28 article "Air links for China, Taiwan": The Lunar New Year charter flights raise the hope that both Taiwan and China can resolve their disputes through negotiation. They have potential to serve as the foundation for the resumption of cross-Strait negotiations and the starting point for normalized relations between Taiwan and China.

Maintaining peace, stability, and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait benefits Taipei, Beijing, and the international community. After negotiations on the charter flights were concluded on Jan. 15, the US government indicated that the agreement would serve the interests of both sides and promote regional peace and security. However, the drafting of an anti-secession law to serve as a "legal basis" for aggression against Taiwan proves that Beijing lacks the sincerity to improve cross-Strait relations.

Through the enactment of the anti- secession laws, China shows that it has neither abandoned its preparation or intention to launch a unilateral attack against Taiwan nor aborted its attempt to dictate the direction of cross-Strait relations. Unless these attempts cease, China will miss an important opportunity to improve cross-Strait relations created by the New Year charter flights.
Frank Wang
Director, Information Division, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston

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