Rights to life, choice, shouldn't be held equal

Opinion

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In response to your column of May 11 ("It's good vs. good, not good vs. evil"), you propose that the dialogue about abortion should focus on how both the "good" of life for pre-born children and the "good" of a woman's reproductive rights (as you have defined them) can "win."

You argue that one way both of these "goods" can be affirmed is to reduce the numbers of abortions. That is in fact what has been happening over the last few years, and nearly everyone on both sides of the abortion debate agrees that this trend is a good development. You do not submit any concrete proposals as to how the number might drop further, but instead call for your readers to take up this issue.

But even if the number is reduced to 800,000 or 500,000 or 100,000, for those innocent lives both goods cannot "win." Thus the dialogue you propose is inherently limited in what it can achieve.

You state that the right to life and the right of parents to control their reproductive decisions are "two very important, competing goods, and arguing which good is superior won't do you a bit of good."

You conclude your column by stating that we need to be talking about affirming both "goods," "not about who's wrong and who's right." Ken, you must recognize that these statements seriously limit the nature of any possible dialogue right from the start.

We need a real, intense, sustained, yet respectful argument on the abortion issue and on all life issues. As you pointed out, participating in such a discussion is a patriotic act, and it is the only hope a civilized society has to reach some sort of resolution of this issue short of the insane ideations of Eric Rudolph and his ilk.

Of course, dialogue must be based on a real attempt to understand and empathize with the other's point of view. I believe, however, that persons of good faith (which, unfortunately, does not include everyone) recognize the depth of everyone's conviction on this issue; the problem is that this recognition is sterile unless we go further.

I happen to think that the "good" of the right to life outweighs the other "good" which you have defined; in fact, I think that it is wrong to support the "good" of "reproductive freedom" (important: as you have defined "reproductive freedom") if that means failing to fully affirm the "good" of the right to life.

I believe that I can provide good reasons for this position, and that a presentation of these reasons would be a necessary part of any robust dialogue on this issue (of course, others in the dialogue will disagree; thus, the dialogue).

I am reluctant to continue the dialogue in this forum, however, if I am prevented at the outset from proposing that one position is superior to another. If you agree that I can propose this (and perhaps even that the act of arguing such a proposition would be a good thing), I will do my best to further the dialogue in a subsequent letter. If not, regretfully I think it best that I stop right here.

Greg Black
Oak Park

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