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DECEMBER 2, 1998   5:16 PM
CONTACT: National Abortion Rights Action League
NARAL Response to the U.S. News and World Report article, "Abortion: The Untold Story," by David Whitman
WASHINGTON - December 2 -

December 2, 1998

U.S. News and World Report
Letters Editor
2400 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20037-1106

Dear Editor:

In his article "Abortion: The Untold Story" (12/7/98), David Whitman fails to grasp the essence of the problem regarding abortions in the U.S. When a woman needs to have an abortion she will find a way to get one - that is not the issue. Rather, the question Whitman should have asked is whether women should be required to endure an ever-increasing number of obstacles in order to exercise a constitutional right that should be non-negotiable.

The right to choose is as basic a freedom to our society as are the freedoms to vote, speak or worship. Citizens wishing to participate or vote in elections do not need to be escorted through hecklers in order to reach their polling places. No other constitutional right is faced with such stringent restrictions just because some in the population are offended by that right: There is no 24-hour waiting period before a writer can speak out about a government policy, nor is there a state-mandated lecture for journalists filing a controversial story. Nonsense. Who decides which rights will be defended and which will be discarded?

In his recitation of statistics Whitman also callously minimizes the impact of violence at abortion clinics. He omits the fact that one-quarter of clinics in the US experienced some measure of violence in 1997. Even one incidence of violence is too many - as the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Barnett Slepian will attest.

We all want to see abortion made less necessary, and in fact, the number of abortions performed is at its lowest since 1975. Whitman correctly states that the number of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies is down due to increased use of contraception and fear of AIDS. But remember that not too long ago women died in our nation's back alleys in order to obtain abortions, and many were maimed in desperate attempts to end a crisis pregnancy. Yes, women will continue to seek abortions when faced with a pregnancy they can no longer continue, but what emotional and financial price must they pay in order to exercise their constitutional right to choose?


Kate Michelman




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