Letters to the EditorThe Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to John Rodkin.
Our name: "MIT Students for Choice and Reproductive Freedom." We believe that a woman should have a choice in aspects of reproductive freedom, including abortion. We do not "condone" abortion; calling us "students for abortion" makes it sound as though we want everywoman to get pregnant just so she can have an abortion. On the contrary, we hold only that a woman must have a legal right to have a safe, accessible abortion as one of her many options if she becomes pregnant.
Please consider a few facts concerning public support for abortion in the United States. Most Americans say that a woman should have the right to choose an abortion -- in the first three months of her pregnancy, when her pregnancy threatens her life, when her pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, and for a host of other reasons.
Bush and Reagan are, indeed, strongly anti-choice. This in fact explains your observation ["Choice Group's Name is Misleading, Wrong," March 20] that the present extremely conservative Supreme Court is also packed with anti-choice Justices. The two statements are not unrelated; when Justices retire, the president is influential in determining who their replacements will be. Far from showing that choice is a minority opinion, the new Supreme Court merely confirms the effects of the Reagan/Bush anti-abortion "litmus" test for judicial appointments.
Consider also that all five of the original democratic candidates were pro-choice; President Bush is not a one-man majority. Does the fact that we have not had a pro-choice president mean that the country does not believe in reproductive freedom? We have never had a woman president either, and only 5% of the Senate is women; of the 95% of them who aren't, most seem to see sexual harassment as something that can be tossed lightly to the side or ignored completely (e.g., the Anita Hill hearings). Are they representative of the people of this country in this respect?
Your observation that this country is short on money is correct; your analysis of the connection with abortion and reproductive rights is not. It is precisely because of the huge problem of welfare and poor women not being able to support another child, let alone subsist in their current circumstances, that we need to allow them the right to an accessible abortion, if they so choose. Because we do not have at our fingertips a way to allow all people to care for and support as many children as they want, we must allow them the right to make a decision not to have another child if doing so would make their lives a little more livable.
Currently, the "gag rule" prohibits facilities which receive Title X funds from even mentioning abortion as an option, even if a patient requests the information or if withholding it would endanger her health. There are many thousands of poor women who will suffer for this.
You complain that we want funding even though churches don't get any. There is such a thing as separation as church and state in this country. More importantly, "we" don't want money from the government; we want the government to make abortion safe, legal, and accessible for any woman who needs one, regardless of her socioeconomic status.
What is the nebulous "political correctness" to which you refer and what does it have to do with our belief that abortion and reproductive freedom are fundamental rights?
If you cannot see the difference between a woman choosing to have an abortion and a woman choosing to become a prostitute; if you cannot see the difference between abortion and drug use; if you cannot see the difference between "advocating abortion" and advocating that one should have the legal right to choose to have an abortion if one so desires, then I am sorry that you cannot see what is so very clear.
Emily T. Yeh '93
MIT Students for Choice
and Reproductive Freedom
Club Does Not Favor Abortion, Only Choice
We are writing in response to John Rodkin's letter ["Choice' Group's Name is Misleading, Wrong," March 20]. We suspect that Rodkin has confused the pro-abortion and pro-choice standpoints. The pro-abortion movement was started as an offshoot of the short-lived Pro-Death Club. After failing at repeated suicide attempts, the remaining Pro-Deathers decided to promote the termination of all fetuses. In contrast, pro-choice advocates support the right of women to choose to have abortions; they do not endorse the extinction of the human race. Further, the name "pro-choice" is not meant to condone drug abuse or prostitution, despite Rodkin's suppositions. Nonetheless, we sympathize with his confusion.
In fact, we have suffered similar difficulties with the term "pro-life." We recognize that pro-lifers are in favor of life, and thus we assume that they eat only plants and animals that have died of natural causes. We fail, however, to appreciate how pro-lifers can be in the majority, as Rodkin implies. Since their limited food supply can only support a small number of people, we are forced to conclude that pro-lifers are actually in the minority.
How, then, can Rodkin claim that pro-lifers are in the majority? He argues that since we have never had an ardent pro-choice president, pro-choice advocates must be in the minority. As members of a democracy, we probably all agree that we elect our president through single-issue voting. Rodkin, however, fails to identify the real issue governing our elections. In fact, Americans vote for the presidential candidate who has managed to find the most incompetent running mate; reproductive rights are of but secondary importance.
Despite his rudimentary understanding of the election process, Rodkin shows true pioneering spirit in his interpretation of our political system. Boldly disregarding personal rights and inclinations, he states that "As members of a democracy, we are supposed to allow ourselves to be governed by the will of the majority." We applaud his lack of self-will, but fear that others fall short of his standards. Unfortunately, many Americans feel that they have the right to govern their own actions provided that they remain within the law. They selfishly expect the Bill of Rights to preserve their personal liberty. Until such a time as these people are eliminated, we can only envision the Utopia Rodkin describes. Only then can logic and facts be blithely ignored in order to deprive women of their rights.
Cynthia J. Holcroft '92
Rachel E. Obstler '92
Abortion Opponents Forget Women's Rights
I would like to thank John Rodkin for his letter to the editor ["Choice Group's Name is Misleading, Wrong," March 20]. I was glad to hear his opinion, but I must disagree with some of his ideas. I do not believe that Mr. Rodkin is in any way singling out MIT's pro-choice group as being different from other pro-choice groups in the country, so I write my response to his letter not just as a member of the Students for Choice, but as someone who is pro-choice.
Rodkin's article goes beyond the abortion debate. Mr. Rodkin argues since "our country has never elected a pro-choice President" that the pro-choice movement cannot represent the majority viewpoint. He then argues that since the pro-choice movement is, in his opinion, a minority, "the group should not expect any money from the government." This is an incredibly dangerous political philosophy. The principle of democracy is majority rule with minority rights. The fact that minority groups have rights is the single most important part of democracy in America. Thinking that the President represents every majority in America is simply wrong. Only rich white males have been elected president, and rich white males have benefited the most from the programs of the White House, especially under the Reagan and Bush administrations. I am confident that Mr. Rodkin realizes that rich white males are not a majority in this country.
The abortion issue is part of the larger issue of women's rights. At MIT the ratio of men to women does not reflect the normal ratio in the country. If Mr. Rodkin adheres to his own political philosophy, and "allow[s] himself to be governed by the will of the majority," I urge him to remember the results of the 1990 census -- in the United States, women are a majority.
Michael J. Lawler '93
MIT Students for Choice
and Reproductive Freedom