Mr. Frederick Bedell’s letter in the July 6 issue of the Port Washington Times makes it unmistakably clear that he counts himself among the supporters of the pro-life movement. While I respect his right to condemn abortion and acknowledge his right to do his utmost to convince others, I feel it appropriate to offer some points of rebuttal.
First of all, the very term “pro-life” is, in my opinion, a misleading representation of those who disagree with Mr. Bedell.
It implies, whether deliberately or not, that people who believe otherwise are “pro-death.” That could not be farther from the truth.
The issue about which the two sides argue is, purely and simply, what actually constitutes the definition of life and how one best values and protects the living.
Secondly, it should be clear that not even the most ardent advocates of the right of a woman to that particular medical procedure are actually “pro-abortion.”
I have never taken a survey, but I am absolutely certain that there is no one who thinks that an abortion is a great experience and everyone ought to try one.
As a male, I have thankfully never been in a position of having to make such a decision, but I know that, for the great majority of women who have found themselves confronted with an unwanted or even potentially dangerous pregnancy, it is an agonizing choice that they know will cause not only the physical stress but an emotional trauma that may last for years.
It is their own lives – perhaps only rarely in a medical sense, but almost always in the sense of their personal future – at issue, so the term “pro-life” might actually be applied appropriately to the women themselves and those who support their decisions.
Thirdly, Mr. Bedell writes that “I believe all life is sacred from conception…”
That is, clearly, a personal belief – to which he’s certainly entitled – but it is inarguably rooted in religion.
There are many people from all walks of life, of various (or no) religious persuasions, who do not agree with Mr. Bedell’s definition of life; nor is there any such definition specified in the Constitution.
Furthermore, there are many – perhaps even a majority – people with far more formal education in the sciences than I have who define human life as much more than a mere collection of cells but, instead, as beginning when those cells reach a specified point in their development into a viable fetus.
As much as I respect Mr. Bedell’s viewpoint on the subject, I would ask that he would show reciprocal respect for the opinions of those who disagree.
Finally, it’s worth noting that, in a recent decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities with Catholic or other religious leaders who oppose abortion may not be compelled to offer pregnant women advice or information about where they might go to obtain an abortion.
The logic of that decision was that, under the doctrine of freedom of speech, no one should be compelled to express something that is felt to violate his or her sincerely held religious beliefs.
While I don’t know Mr. Bedell and thus cannot speak for him, it’s my guess that he would agree with the majority of the Justices in that particular case.
But there is a corollary to that, which I believe is highly relevant: Since one cannot compel someone to advocate a statement or an act that contradicts his or her religious convictions, so should one not compel or forbid someone to act or to refrain from acting in accordance with someone else’s religious concept with which she disagrees.
Roe v. Wade does not require any woman, of any or no religion, to have an abortion.
By the same token, though, it should be considered a violation of the clause in the U. S. Constitution that guarantees freedom of (and by implication from) religion to ban a particular medical procedure because of the objections of others who hold different religious beliefs.
Robert I. Adler