Original Letter to the Editor submitted to the News & Record (Greensboro, NC) on 3 February 1998; unpublished due to News & Record's "no more than one [letter] every 30 days" rule though they had violated it in the previous month and appeared to be having trouble getting sufficient letters to print section every day
Abortion cartoon was ironic
To the Editor:
I couldn't help but be struck by the irony in Auth's Feb. 3 cartoon concerning the Alabama abortion clinic bombing, though I suspect that it was unintentional. In the cartoon, a shadowy, bomb-wielding figure lurks menacingly in an alley across the street from a "women's health clinic" thinking, "I have the right to choose who forfeits the right to life."
Though I am adamantly opposed to the current legal status of abortion as birth control, I was deeply disturbed by the bombing and especially so because it resulted in death. I fervently hope that the criminal responsible for this act is caught, prosecuted, convicted, and executed. Terrorism and murder are horrific crimes and are not appropriate expressions of political protest.
The irony is that every time a woman exercises her "right to choose" to have an abortion, she is choosing to forfeit her child's right to life. Contrary to the euphemisms used by pro-abortionists, a preborn child is an innocent human life deserving the protection that such status demands. Additionally, abortion is the violent destruction of a human life. A mother should consider the use of abortion only when her child loses his innocence by posing a legitimate threat to her life.
I look forward to the day when our country is no longer plagued by misguided terrorists who betray a noble and righteous cause and more than one million children are no longer killed annually in the name of freedom.
James M. Wallace
On 26 May 1998, one of my guests sent me this e-mail regarding a point in my letter:
I saw your abortion page, and I agree with most of it, but why does the baby lose its innocence when it poses a threat to the mother's life? The baby is not maliciously doing so. In cases like these, the doctor should be obligated to save *both* lives, not just the mother's.
On 10 June 1998, I replied with the following clarification of my position:
Sorry I've taken so long to respond. I started on it when I returned from a trip on 28 May, but saved it as a draft as I was too tired to give you a full and proper response, and I haven't gotten back to it until now.
Given the length restrictions on a letter to the editor, I sometimes am forced to abbreviate a point or to use a word imprecisely. I appreciate that this can cause some misunderstanding. I used "innocence" in the sense of being "benign." I certainly don't ascribe any malevolence on the part of the fetus in a dangerous pregnancy. (That sort of thing only occurs in "Antichrist" horror movies.) Though the fetus is unintentionally threatening his mother's life, he is a threat nonetheless and must be treated as such however unpleasant this is.
I agree that both the physician and the mother should do all they can to preserve both lives. Unfortunately, this isn't enough sometimes. In these cases, I think the most just action is to allow the mother to decide the fate of herself and her child as her life is the dominant one. A woman should make this decision after consulting medical and religious advisers, considering her obligations to her other children and husband, and determining the personal risk she is willing to accept to preserve her preborn child's life. In this circumstance, I think that the woman facing this terrible choice should be the only one to make it.
My pro-life position is that abortion should be allowed in the case of a life-threatening pregnancy. Additionally, I think abortion probably should be allowed in the case of rape or incest though I'm not fully committed to this exception. I'm conflicted over the innocent child's life versus forcing an innocent woman to bear her assailant's child. This would put us where we were when Roe v. Wade was decided. Of course, I absolutely abhor abortion as "birth control." If a woman doesn't want to be a mother, she shouldn't allow a man to inseminate her, or at least lessen the chance of pregnancy by use of contraceptive methods with full acceptance of the consequences if they fail.
You are probably aware of the survey by Planned Parenthood's Alan Guttmacher Institute of the reasons women sought abortion: life or health, 6%; rape or incest, 1%; personal or social, 93%. This suggests that the vast majority of abortions would be prevented by a ban on abortion with exceptions for life or health and rape or incest. I've seen other surveys which show that, while a solid majority oppose a complete ban on abortion, 56% support the pro-life position I advocate. The exceptions position is politically viable, and would reduce annual abortions from 1.5 million to 100,000. We aren't going to eliminate abortion completely, but we can eliminate most abortions and the most egregious and morally offensive ones at that.
I hope you better understand my position. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to further explore my own views.
-- Matt Wallace