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Abortion Debate Continued

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By Ben Cohen

A reader writes in response to my article on abortion. My reply below:

So, Ben's conflicted, not sure really how he feels about abortion

cuz, jeez, it's murder,but a woman might get raped, so she needs the


Here's the thing, Ben. It's none of your business.

Just that. None of


business if, or how, a woman decides whether to have an abortion, unless you are the father. None. Of. Your. Business.

Sorry if I've pissed you off, Ben. But, I've got a question for

ya. Do you take Viagra? Know any man who does? I think it's terrible

for a man to take an artificial stimulant just so he can get an

erection. Erections are God-given and should remain that way. I think

Viagra and all those other medications (especially the ones on those

annoying early-morning commercials) should be banned.

What, you say? It's none of my business if a man takes Viagra?

Well, I guess it is. He might get some woman pregnant. And then she

might choose an abortion. And you seem to think that abortion is pretty

much everyone's business, right? We should all weigh in with our moral

views, etc., etc.

Many years ago, I worked in a healthcare setting where late-term

abortions were performed, about four a year. Administrators were

terrified that the information would leak out. In every case, those

abortions were performed because the fetus was in terrible shape,

sometimes due to a genetic defect, sometimes just because Nature can

make terrible mistakes. These problems were difficult to spot until

late in a pregnancy.

Those children were very much wanted. But they were doomed to die

in utero, or to live a very short and painful existence before

suffering a cruel death. Yes, it happens, and more often than most

people know. Those parents faced gut-wrenching decisions no matter

which option they chose. My heart broke for them.

Dr. Tiller was one of three -- yes, three --physicians in the

entire United States who would perform those late-term abortions. So

his murder means there are only two doctors left who would help these

families -- unless they decide to end that part of their practices, to

avoid the same fate as Tiller.

I wouldn't dream of interfering with anyone's decision on whether

to have children. It's not my business. And I wouldn't dream of

interfering with anyone's decision to end a pregnancy. That's between a

woman (and her partner, if she has one) and her doctor. Anyone who

isn't in the examining room doesn't get to have a say.

You're young, Ben. You haven't lived in a country where abortion

was illegal and unsafe. You don't know how desperate women used

coathangers on themselves to abort a fetus, or swallowed rat poison, or

sought out back-alley hacks who butchered them. The fact that they did

this shows how desperate they were. Some died, some got arrested, some

were so damaged that they could never get pregnant again.

Idon't everwant to go back to that world. And so, when it comes

to abortion, I keep my nose out of it. I think everyone should.

I largely agree with the reader, although the analogy between abortion and viagra isn't particularly helpful and her tone doesn't do anything to elevate the debate . I don't believe abortion is anyone's business but a woman's and her doctor's, and I understand how important it is to have regulated, safe places for women to have them. Nevertheless, it's a topic that affects many people, and arouses great passion. Vilifying those opposed to abortion does not help the debate it any way. I have spent a lot of time with fundamentalist Christians, and shouting at them simply won't help. It just deepens the divide and reduces debate to name calling. Most people are willing to at least discuss the topic civilly, and I think that is the best course to at least partially reconciling two very different world views. I happen to find both sides of the argument compelling as I can logically understand the need to have the option, but emotionally recoil at the thought of it. It's not a topic I relish discussing, but don't see why I should apologize for my views. And neither should anyone else.