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If you write a letter on abortion, be prepared to hear from other readers

If you write a letter on abortion, be prepared to hear from other readers
Antiabortion activists try to block the sign of a pro-choice activist during the March for Life in Washington on Jan. 19, 2018. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Dedicated readers of the Los Angeles Times have probably noticed that the topic of abortion has occupied significant print real estate lately on the letters page (and taken up considerable digital bandwidth). Not surprisingly, several dozen letters to the editor on abortion were sent to us this week, most of them opposed to new laws in Alabama and Georgia.

So why is the topic occupying this space, and on a day when other abortion letters are being published? It’s to point out that abortion is one of a few topics — like, say, gun control — where letters from readers tend to prompt a significant number of more letters from readers. In other words, we get a lot of letters to the editor on abortion written in response to other letters on abortion.

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One published letter suggested talking about why women get pregnant when they do not want to. Reader Greg Seyranian obliges:

A letter writer correctly notes that unwanted pregnancies are the real root of the abortion issue. He wonders how such pregnancies might be avoided.

We already know: free, readily available birth control and comprehensive sex education.

For good measure, we may want to throw in ironclad paternity laws that slap men with lifelong responsibility for the pregnancies they create. That might make rooms full of men a little less likely to continue legislating pregnancy as though it were strictly a woman’s problem.

Robert Scott of Los Angeles, discussing letters about boycotting Georgia, suggests better wording:

No wonder there is such a lack of agreement on what to do about abortion. Consider the terminology.

If you’re not pro-life, you’re pro-death. If you’re not pro-choice, you’re pro-compulsion. Who wants either of those? Instead we should think about the real effects on all of us.

What do you think of unwanted children? Are they a problem? Yes, of course. What do you think of unwilling mothers? Are they a problem? Yes, of course. I don’t want us to have either.

Every decision on abortion should depend on the circumstances in each case. I would call this “pro-society,” but that seems too abstract. Just forget the terminology and make a thoughtful decision.

Melanie Clark of La Cañada Flintridge responds to a letter that asserted every abortion ends a life:

It is emphatically untrue that an abortion necessarily stops a beating heart.

When I was an Army officer stationed in Germany during the Reagan administration, a soldier’s wife in my unit became pregnant but the fetus died in utero. Under the cruel regulations of the “pro-life” president, this soldier was denied an abortion at the American military hospital, where she was told her pregnancy had to be carried to term even though the fetus had died.

This poor woman was forced to go to a local German hospital where she received an abortion quickly and with compassion.

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