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Pro-life column contained misleading information


The column by Juan Latasa and Chris Papineau ["Washington march supports pro-life," Jan. 31] provides a very informative portrayal of the attitudes and arguments of the "pro-life" activists. There are some points, however, that must be clarified for the MIT community, so that educated opinions can be formed on this sensitive subject.

We must clarify the meaning of some terms. The pro-choice position respects a women's capability and right to make her own reproductive decisions. This right must include the freedom from forced sterilization as well as the sad option of abortion. Pro-abortion is the stance of those who are in favor of aborting most pregnancies. There is a strong national pro-choice movement, but very little, if any, pro-abortion activity.

The proposals attributed to Dr. Bernard Nathanson in the column were highly idealistic and curiously incomplete medically and philosophically. The majority of studies, including those cited in "pro-life" texts, do not support the claim that genuine fetal viability reaches 90 percent at 26 weeks. Nathanson's proposal to induce early labor and then transfer the fetus to a supportive machine is very dangerous to the mother and even more dangerous to a developing fetus. As a doctor, he should acknowledge the obvious risk. If even as many as 90 percent of the fetuses survive, does he claim to be only 90 percent "pro-life?"

His proposal to provide this option for certain cases, such as rape or risk to the mother's health, makes one wonder if he values the lives of some fetuses over the lives of others. It would be wonderful if the technology were available to nurture a fetus after 10 weeks of development, but this is not now possible. Allowing a woman to end her pregnancy after the 26th week does not affirm her right to control her body.

The column implies that plenty of open homes exist to adopt babies. This is simply untrue. There are currently 34,000 children waiting to be adopted in America, but they are refused because they are too old, too unhealthy, or somehow the "wrong" race. These conditions cannot be denied.

What can be done, however, is to repair the problem. It is true that some adoption agencies will not place children in homes on the basis of their origin or gender. If lists of families who want to adopt unhealthy babies do exist, then energy should be put into matching families with babies. If the energy misdirected into violently blocking abortion clinics were put into childcare, education, building homes, or otherwise improving life in real America, we might build a society where no one is "unwanted."

Martha Marvin G->

Erica Wickstrom '90->