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Though I very much respect the desire of Mr. Joshua Kwan to "make heads (or) tails of the abortion debate"--and wish many more people were so earnest about looking at the issue--I felt compelled to respond to several assertions made in his Feb. 22 op-ed piece about finding the "middle ground among extremes." "In America," says Kwan, "I am free to choose any definition oflife I please." Perhaps, but I certainly hope I am not free to act on any definition of life I please. A great many American citizens once held that people of darker skin tone were somehow less than human beings, and therefore to be enslaved or disposed of as those Americans saw fit; fortunately, such people were eventually prevented from acting on their particular definition of human life. I am not free to redefine life as excluding the old, the infirm, or a child the moment after it has been born. I may think whatever I please, but my action is limited to those things which do not injure my fellow human beings. That protection that the law gives to those around me is already the legislation of morality, which, as Mr. Kwan notes, Americans are so reluctant to do.
"Gone are the days of Prohibition, when a vocal group of activists were able to impose their morality upon the rest of the nation," says Mr. Kwan, implying that the two issues--Prohibition and abortion--are on more or less the same level. Aside from the fact that both movements consisted of "activists" intent on changing the law, I somehow do not see much of a connection. The abortion debate strikes such raw nerves because it is fundamentally about human life and whether or not I or anyone else may arbitrarily decide on it's definition. Prohibition was fundamentally about whether or not people ought to consume alcohol. If that being in a woman's womb is not fundemantally different from a being just out of a woman's womb, then the abortion debate is also about whether or not human life is an inherent dignity that ought to be protected.
I do not relish being called an "extremist" for having a definite opinion on the abortion issue and for being able to find no point where a fetus miraculously becomes a human being if it were not one all along. (It may not be a completely developed specimen of humanity, but then again, neither is a ten-year-old.) I don't run around with shotguns (neither does any pro-lifer I know), but I can't help hoping that the laws of the country will change to protect these "least among us," as many of our other articles of legislated morality already do. If that makes me an "extremist," so be it. I am not free to act on a definition of life excluding the child who was born ten seconds ago, and cannot think I ought to be free to act on an arbitrary definition of life excluding the child a minute or an hour or a month before it is born.-- Michelle K. Borras '97
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