Medical and moral decisions are a woman's own to make


Published: Sunday, January 30, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 29, 2005 at 10:48 p.m.

In response to two recent guest columns about the subject of abortion rights: The idea of requiring an additional waiting period by law before a woman can implement her decision to end a pregnancy is merely one of many strategies developed by those who believe the best way to stop abortion is to prevent women's access to safe and legal medical services. Compulsory waiting periods act as a barrier to access for poorer women, especially the increasing number of women who must travel long distances to find care.

No woman seeks a lab test for pregnancy, or decides to end that pregnancy, on a sudden whim. Stating that every woman who seeks an abortion just hasn't thought about it enough is an insult to all women. Barring access via compulsory waiting periods is a hardship and a danger to many.

With respect to a "feminist" organization that would denigrate the personhood and moral agency of women: The most concise definition of "feminism" is the radical notion that women are human beings. Thus, we do not understand what Colleen Porter's "belief" in the status of embryos (Jan. 19) has to do with feminism, let alone with the right of each woman to make her own medical and moral decisions.

Forcing any woman to continue a pregnancy and bear a child against her own free will and despite her own best judgment is no more a "feminist" value than a democratic or American one.

Likewise, a poll purporting to give the opinions of teenagers, or any other group faced with a hypothetical and usually slanted question about "morality," has nothing to do with the fundamental right of every woman to delay, space, limit or avoid childbearing.

Women, like men, need not be granted permission by anyone to make their own medical and moral decisions. Women must and do make those most personal decisions for themselves, after consulting with those they trust.

We will continue to defend the right of all women to make medical and moral decisions free from external coercion and interference.

Emily Browne,

Judy Levy NOW Board,

Gainesville

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