Mass. is one battleground in national abortion debate

Vivian Gainer, right, of Jamaica Plain, takes part in a rally outside the State House held last week to protest restrictive abortion laws recently passed in several states.
Vivian Gainer, right, of Jamaica Plain, takes part in a rally outside the State House held last week to protest restrictive abortion laws recently passed in several states.Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Globe Staff

Mass. has chance to be nation’s leader on reproductive freedom

Re “Abortion foes see their chance” (Page A1, May 16): I am outraged and horrified. Daily we see politicians trying — and succeeding — to take away women’s choice to control their reproductive lives. It takes me back vividly to the 1960s, when I needed an abortion, illegally, eight years before the protections of Roe v. Wade. We are in grave danger of going back to those days.

We are blessed to live in Massachusetts, where 80 percent of voters are strongly in favor of upholding Roe v. Wade, and where our rights to control our reproductive choices are strong — but imperfect. This year, we have the opportunity to fine-tune these protections — to fight back against this nationwide antiabortion effort, and to be the nation’s leader on reproductive freedom.


Now more than ever, we need the ROE Act (An Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access). We can remove outmoded language and ensure that women who need abortions later in pregnancy because of lethal fetal abnormalities can have them in Massachusetts rather than have to travel across the country.

Fifty years ago, I was one of the women who founded the predecessor organization to NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts — MORAL, or the Massachusetts Organization to Repeal Abortion Laws — to fight for safe and legal abortions. I am still fighting.

Carol Deanow


Are there not more forgiving alternatives?

I guess I don’t get it — maybe because I’m getting older, or maybe, thankfully, because in my case, the situation never presented itself — but after experiencing an unwanted pregnancy, which is traumatic enough, why would anyone want to undergo an even more traumatic experience (physically, emotionally, mentally, perhaps spiritually) such as an abortion?

Are there not more forgiving alternatives available, for both the mother and child — carrying to term and putting the child up for adoption, for example?


It seems we are trying to equate an unwanted child with the removal of a malignancy.

I will conclude with this quote from Dr. Albert Schweitzer: “Ethics is nothing other than reverence for life. Reverence for life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life, and to destroy, to harm, or to hinder life is evil.”

David Del Sesto

Enfield, N.H.

Decision ultimately rests with a woman and her doctor

Margery Eagan (“The church’s dismaying antiabortion rhetoric,” Opinion, May 17) speaks for those of us Catholics who believe a pregnancy decision ultimately rests with a woman and her doctor. Eagan is correct in focusing on the incendiary phrase in the bishops’ letter, about the ROE Act in Massachusetts, regarding allowing “abortions during the nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason.”

The decision about terminating a pregnancy is an agonizing one for most women. Doctors sworn to “do no harm” and dedicated to helping to bring children into this world need to be trusted and protected by law.

The Catholic Church should be involved to counsel in these difficult decisions. The church also should be devoting scarce resources to providing economic help and expanded options for placement for women who decide to carry to term.

The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore said that “every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.” The church, the state, and all of us could support that belief under a law that respects a woman and doctor’s decision.


Russ and Ellen Dever


Catholic belief in right to life is the object of enduring hostility

In her latest column criticizing Catholicism, Margery Eagan claims that she is not attacking the Catholic position on abortion, but rather is only assailing the tactics of the church in opposing the ROE Act in Massachusetts.

This assertion is unpersuasive. Diversionary arguments about secondary issues notwithstanding, it is precisely the Catholic belief in the right to life of the unborn that remains the enduring object of Eagan’s unrelenting hostility.

Given the extremism of the ROE Act, it is hardly surprising that Eagan would want to change the terms of the debate from the content of the legislation to the old NARAL Pro-Choice America narrative about the impositions of the Catholic hierarchy.

When it comes to abortion, Eagan identifies as Catholic (albeit one who is always about to leave the church), but readily resorts to the familiar talking points of Planned Parenthood, as when she quotes state Representative Patricia Haddad about “shaming women.”

What’s more, Eagan’s concern about the so-called illegality of third-trimester abortions in Massachusetts is overstated.

Section 12M of Chapter 112 of the General Laws of the Commonwealth permits abortion after 24 weeks “if it is necessary to save the life of the mother, or if a continuation of her pregnancy will impose on her a substantial risk of grave impairment of her physical or mental health.”

C. J. Doyle

Executive director

Catholic Action League

of Massachusetts


As long as we’re talking about the lives of children . . .

I cannot understand the outrage over abortion from people who are completely unconcerned about the more than 11 million refugee children worldwide, or the 12 million children who are hungry and the 2.5 million who are homeless in America.


Maybe some of that passion could be used to lift up the world’s existing children and help keep the children who are already here in this country alive and well.

Ellen Ford