In response to "A Social Stigma for Abortion? Let's Hope So," Column Right, July 5: New figures show that church attendance throughout North America and Western Europe is at its lowest since the Middle Ages. Several reasons are cited for this continued decline, most notably the unwillingness of thoughtful people to submit to the dictatorial oppression of religious rulers, including popes, pastors and priests.
In the United States, the shift away from organized religion has been called a declaration of "spiritual independence." Citing the long history of organized religion's oppression of women and opposition to science and independent thought, millions of Americans are rejecting religious dogma (written and enforced by men) in favor of a more personal relationship with God.
Today, religionists are involved in a last-ditch effort to enforce their beliefs through the schools, legislatures and courts. The issues of religion and smoking have much in common. They're both matters of individual choice. If a person chooses to go to church or smoke, they certainly have that right. But they have no right to blow smoke in your face or cram their beliefs down your throat.
I commend Susan Carpenter McMillan for her excellent article drawing an analogy between smoking and abortion. I would add only one more fact to her discussion. She stated that legalization of abortion through nine months of pregnancy came about through the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision.
This is not completely accurate. There was a second opinion handed down at the same time: Doe vs. Bolton. These two cases were considered together as companion cases. Unless you know Doe you cannot understand the radical nature of Roe.
While Roe established the legality of abortion, it allowed that abortions could be restricted during the last three months of pregnancy unless the life or health of the mother were at stake. It is in Doe that we find an all-encompassing definition of "health": "all factors--physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age--relevant to the well-being of the patient."
Doe not only defines the exception to the rule allowing restrictions on late term abortions--it is the exception that swallowed the rule. When discussing the abortion issue it is essential to understand both judicial decisions which have brought us, up to now, 1.6 million abortions per year in the United States.
LICIA NICASSIO, Director
Office of Respect Life
Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Justice Antonin Scalia was correct ("Abortion Clinic Buffer Against Protest Upheld," July 1). The Supreme Court decision took away free-speech protections from those against abortion. The free speech the decision put a cap on was between a counselor and a woman considering an abortion. Almost daily women change their minds after talking with a "sidewalk" counselor. Many women going into an abortion clinic are being pressured by parents, peers, or a boyfriend/husband. When someone offers them a real choice, they make a decision for life. There are over 3,500 centers nationwide that help a woman through a problem pregnancy with genuine help, acceptance and love.
This decision shuts the door on allowing a desperate woman to hear both sides and make an informed decision. It shuts the door on real choice. Let's give back the right to free speech to everyone.