Archbishop Mahony's Letter and Abortion Issue

Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony's diatribe (letter, April 21) against your pro-choice editorial ("A Major March," April 11) as being "based on three false premises" is itself based on false premises.

First, anti-abortion ideas were never the "moral principle upon which our country was so firmly founded." "Life from conception" never occurred to the Founding Fathers, and was not a part of 18th-Century belief. This nation was not founded so the state could post policemen around fertilized eggs at the expense of the mother's life and needs. The United States was founded to establish freedom, elected government representing the majority political view (as every poll shows pro-choice to be), and for protection against religious tyranny.

Second, no matter how many times forced-pregnancy advocates may say otherwise, fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos and early-state fetuses are not "human beings," "babies" or "unborn children." They will become human beings later, when they develop, but an acorn is not a tree and an egg is not a chicken.

Meanwhile, women are human beings, and their wombs are not the property of the church or the state. Absolutists would even force women to carry to birth pregnancies caused by rape--thus making the rape last for nine months. Is such destruction of women victims somebody's idea of "pro-life?"

Third, while the Archbishop may have his own ideas on jurisprudence, the courts have always considered social and public policy in deciding matters of great importance. What would happen if Roe vs. Wade were overruled? It would prove that the law is nothing but a result-oriented politicized process. Respect for both law and government would be destroyed as they became enemies to be hidden from, instruments of religious dictatorship.

Finally, it is not because of legal abortion that "we are not taken seriously in the international community." Every civilized nation on earth provides safe abortion as an option for its people. I have talked to people from other countries. We are ridiculed as a backward, puritanical, silly society, with pious, smug moralizing constantly spewing from public figures who presume to tell people both here and abroad how they should live their private lives and conduct their most intimate affairs.

It is easy for Archbishop Mahony to sit in his theological ivory tower and hand down edicts about abortion. It is a different story for people who have to live in the real world and deal with the tough choices that affect their lives.

MARK LEINWAND

Woodland Hills

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