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Abortion issues should not be decided in US Supreme Court

To the Editor:

"Women must have rights over their own bodies." This includes the rights to make all decisions concerning an abortion of her own fetus, Lindsay Hoagland argued in her letter to the editor [Feb. 17]. But by simple extension, this includes the right to fill it with heroin and cocaine. This is not a "right" which is accepted by society at large.

Our society, it is generally agreed, does have the right to limit actions of individuals, even when those actions affect only the individual concerned. Seat belt use, drug use, abortion, commitment of the mentally ill, death of the terminally ill, and many actions of minors are all regulated, although they may not affect anyone else.

Laws concerning these issues are based on community and societal standards of moral behavior. Although the exact limits are often controversial, the fact that such limits exist and are enforced is not controversial.

Fundamental standards such as these should be open to broad public debate and should be enacted by legislatures, not courts. The 1973 Supreme Court decision striking down state laws governing abortion was in many ways a usurption of legislative authority, discovering in the Constitution a right to an abortion during the first trimester. The reversal of this decision would not, in fact, have drastic consequences. The likely result would be that conservative states such as Utah would circumscribe abortion on demand, while most others, such as Massachusetts and New York, would not. In addition, flexibility would remain, allowing laws to change as necessary.

Abstinence, contraception, and moral behavior are, in most cases, perhaps a better solution.

John Outwater G->