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Jewish World Review August 17, 1999 /5 Elul, 5759

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Will right-to-life live? -- THE WISCONSIN RIGHT-TO-LIFE organization recently released results of a telephone survey by Wirthlin Worldwide. I confess I rarely believe survey numbers, even when I like the results, but I did find this poll to be a hopeful sign.

They asked respondents to select one of six statements that "most closely describes your own position on the issue of abortion. 1) Abortion should be legal for any reason, at any time during a woman's pregnancy. 2) Abortion should be legal for any reason during the first months of pregnancy. 3) Abortion should be legal for any reason in the first three months of pregnancy. 4) Abortion should be legal only when the life of the mother is in danger or in cases of rape or incest. 5) Abortion should be legal only when the life of the mother is in danger. 6) Abortion should never be legal."

It turns out that 66 percent of Wisconsin adults believe abortion should not be legal except in those extreme circumstances of rape or incest or the threat of maternal death. In 1991, it was 57 percent. So it's increased pretty dramatically.

At nearly the same time I read about this poll, I got a letter on the subject of abortion from Carol in New Mexico, who said, "It's wonderful to have a voice for what too often feels like the moral minority."

But if the Wisconsin poll data can be generalized to the general population (and the Wirthlin pollsters say that it can), then we aren't in the minority at all. However, I sympathize with Carol, because it often does feel that way.

"I work in a laboratory which does diagnostic testing for doctors and hospitals," Carol wrote. "Among the clients I'm assigned to is a woman's health center, a.k.a. abortion clinic, where I found a flier from the director of counseling and the director of education requesting information from patients for their upcoming book on abortion. The flier states that '46 percent of North American women have at least one abortion in their lifetime. Yet it is an experience not often shared or talked about. Many factors contribute to the silencing of abortion experiences: shame, desire for privacy, fear of repercussions, lack of support, extenuating circumstances and so forth. We want to provide a forum for women and men to talk candidly about their experiences with abortion in order to illuminate the reality of abortion, and dispel the myths perpetrated by those who restrict reproductive freedom.'"

I seriously doubt they intend to "illuminate" anything. If so, they would inform women about adoption and refer them to appropriate agencies. They would also inform each woman about how developed her baby is at her given state of pregnancy.
I'd like to know how many women who went to an abortion clinic were shown a picture of their baby's stage of development in utero; without that, a woman isn't really giving INFORMED consent.

Free choice requires information. Are women getting complete information? How many women, on seeing the actual baby in the womb, would decide to keep it or at least carry it to term and put it up for adoption? I always say that if a woman doesn't want to be pregnant, the fetus is "tissue." If she does, it's "my baby."

The two women from the abortion clinic who are writing this "illuminating" book say they want to "dispel the myths" that get in the way of women's reproductive rights. Carol comments: "That's funny. The only myths I've ever heard concerning abortion have been concocted by pro-choicers, e.g., 'it's just tissue; it's not a baby; the fetus feels no pain; there are so many unwanted children who never get adopted; abortion is the most compassionate choice.'"

The authors say they want to present "a well-rounded view," but only from the pro-choice perspective. That doesn't sound all that well-rounded to me, but it's typical of the way groups with intense agendas present data. They also say they seek to empower people. In reality, they surround them with the idea that abortion is the only way out, depriving women of the character-building experience of taking responsibility for their actions, learning from their mistakes and giving life.

Here's what you can be "pro-choice" about: choosing not to have irresponsible, mindless sex. Then you're free from the need to be tested for AIDS every six months and free from the constant fear of other sexually transmitted diseases. Best of all, you're free from worrying about getting pregnant with a child you're not willing or able to take care of or provide for.

Our reproductive rights come hand-in-hand with moral responsibility. We can't exercise any one of our rights at the risk of another's life simply because we want to. I'm glad to know that at least 66 percent of people who live in Wisconsin agree.

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©1999, Universal Press Syndicate