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No one can be sure when life begins

To the Editor:

Chris Papineau '90 is to be congratulated for a well-written statement of anti-abortion sentiment ["Abortion is not the answer," Feb. 14]. Seldom have I seen an anti-abortion statement so absent of emotional platitudes. However, I believe it is based on a false statement that throws into doubt the validity of his arguments.

"So long as there is any doubt about when human life begins, we have no choice but to assume it starts right at conception." Why, do I wonder, do we have no choice? Because Papineau has chosen for us? This is tantamount to saying: "As long as we don't know who's right let's assume I am."

Indeed, Papineau's statement -- "no choice" -- is what this really boils down to. In a democratic society, people have the right to choose a belief and carry out actions based upon those beliefs. There is doubt about when human life begins, and Papineau's authoritative statements cannot change that. As long as there is doubt, people have the right to choose to believe what they will.

I am not pro-abortion. I am pro-choice. I do not necessarily dispute Papineau's statement that life begins at conception. I dispute his assertion that we have no choice but to believe that statement. Such an assertion is condescending at best, and smacks of totalitarianism at worst. I believe we do have a choice, Mr. Papineau, and I will strongly resist your efforts to take that choice away from us.

Richard Lawson '91->